Kai_DaiGoji wrote:I remember trying to read David Crystal's book on language death and endangered languages. The problem was that at my absolute best I can barely care about language death in a detached intellectual way - for whatever reason, I'm just incapable of feeling that it's an emergency. I don't want to say that people who think it is an emergency are wrong (though what you're doing conlanging in the face of such a global tragedy I'd like to know).
I guess I just don't see how the death of a language I don't speak hurts me. I'd love to hear how I'm wrong, though.
I'll be using a bad word, but I don't intend to insult you with it, but that's being pretty much egoist
It's not a bad thing. We live and die, groups appear and disappear, as I have alluded to in another thread. There were many languages before us, and there will be even more after. There's no need to consider much about others, at the first level.
However, like all things on this planet, diversity is its own garantee. The more diverse we are, the more answers we can bring to a given issue, which makes us more quickly adaptable if need be. While I'm not sure distinct languages is a evolutionary advantage of itself, the fact that it shows us our divisions and how we group and maintains a certain diversity might be a right way to sense the emergency in dying languages. That's how I think it's becoming urgent. You don't save a language for its own sake (unless you're a linguist, as others pointed out), but I would save it for the sake of the group it might maintain.
Imagine the French language, which I speak. But I don't speak it like a Hex-lander. Never ever call me "French". I'm not, and I'm quite happy I don't live in Hex-land. Very much, and some Hex-landers actually agree. And the Joual division that it brings is a mark of that distinction. While not essential, it's an easy way to spot one's own within a crowd. So I'll be able to maintain a community and a distinction with them, as I wish. More obscur and isolated languages have the same effect, with more differences.
Ultimately, it's "mostly" superficial. I could be part of X-group if I spoke another language with the members of X-group. But the specific language makes it possible for me to identify with them, and from there, form a distinct, autonomous and, most importantly, different
community, which will increase diversity, which will give some form of garantee to survive.
(I do, however, loathe people that want to maintain a language for the sake of it without any social project behind. It's all fun to have your poor natives speak language Whatever, if you don't give them any means to insure their lives, you'll just create a poor gettho from which its members won't be able to get out, unless they do exactly what you don't want them to do, abandon their ancestral language.
And rich doesn't mean Occidental here; I'd be happy to see my neighboring Attikamekw going back to their traditionnal hunter-gatherer lifestyle, as they were happy and healthy and emotionally rich that way. Rich means "living a worthy and fulfilling life".)