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Janielle Guzinski

Graduate Student - Landscape Architecture,

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What will happen when the world speaks only a few languages?

Increasing levels of globalization are causing a few languages to spread at unprecedented rates. But many less common languages and their associated cultures are going extinct. Programs exist for the conservation of species and habitats at risk of extinction, but very little attention is given to language extinction. Some scientists are suggesting that there are more languages at risk of extinction than bird or mammal species

Does language extinction really matter? It is hard to imagine how the loss of a language halfway around the world would impact your life, and diversity in language makes it difficult to understand one another. But should that diversity be preserved?

References:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v423/n6937/full/nature01607.html
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01434632.2012.709973#.Ua6KRutAv_I

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  • Jun 5 2013: I notice here in the Netherlands, that people not only speak impeccable English, but over the past decade or so, more and more English has been integrated into Dutch. You get this sort of Dutch-English combination that is actually called Dunglish (the are hilarious examples of Dunglish gone wrong, though). I think this combination and integration has to do with internet, since most of the English terms I hear have to do with it.
    It makes me wonder, if languages around the globe will gradually start incorporating other languages, and eventually all merge into one? In fact, many words in English are derived from French or German, languages with the same linguistic backgrounds have so many similarities, you'd think it would be easy to just merge them.
    Nationalism plays a big role in keeping that from happening, though, I think.
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      Jun 5 2013: We have Swing-lish here in Sweden! :D
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      Jun 5 2013: I could see over time having a mixture of languages. It's hard to say which language would be the prominent language, but here in the U.S. many people incorporate french and spanish words casually into their daily conversations, not to mention many businesses often take on foreign names that people then become familiar with. I think as more people, particularly in countries like the U.S. and England where only knowing one language is very common, become bilingual you'll see more people incorporating multiple languages into their conversations.
      • Jun 6 2013: That's the thing, Ryan, I wonder if then no language would be prominent - it would literally evolve into a sort of linguistic mashed potatoes. It comes down to broadening horizons, though, and still today there are people who are born, live and die in the same small town, never exposing, or getting the chance to expose, themselves to other languages. You can then turn to the media, where programs of all languages are offered, but lots of countries (France, Italy, Germany) synchronize everything.
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      Jun 5 2013: And we have Span-glish here in South Florida.
      • Jun 6 2013: I had to grab this from Wikipedia:

        "One of the best quoted examples of Dunglish was said to have taken place between the Dutch foreign minister Joseph Luns (a man whose main foreign language was French, the language of diplomacy prior to World War II) and John F. Kennedy. At one point Kennedy inquired if Luns had any hobbies, to which he replied "I fok horses" (the Dutch verb fokken meaning to breed). Likely taken aback by this strangely obscene reply, Kennedy asked "Pardon?", which Luns then mistook as the Dutch word for "horses" ("paarden") and enthusiastically responded "Yes, paarden!"[1]"
      • Jun 7 2013: Thanks for the warning - the chicken feet killed me, then the 'spaghettis', but my favorite has to be: "Was bob wire really named after its inventor, Bob?" Wonderful!!
        Language is such a joy.!
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      Jun 6 2013: I've seen this with Spanish a lot, especially with new and technology based words, like wifi and internet which are spelled the same in Spanish but pronounced differently. But, even with those examples I don't think languages are going to merge into one anytime soon.
      Even though many English words are derived from romance languages like French or Latin, other parts of the language are more like German, so it still seems like it would be hard to merge them together.

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