TED Conversations

Student,

This conversation is closed.

Is the extinction of languages beneficial or harmful, avoidable or inevitable.

Statistics show that half of all human languages become dead languages every generation. This rate of decline presents us with the eventuality that humans will one day speak only a few, or perhaps one language. This would be a huge loss of culture and history. However, less diversity could prevent war and avoid prejudice.

Share:

Closing Statement from Scott K.

As the world becomes smaller, cultures merge and languages are lost. This is merely a byproduct of progression. As with all progression, we must respect and record the past while looking to the future. The loss of native speakers is inevitable but the language can be preserved. Besides, a universal language would be more efficient, peaceful, and convenient.

  • Oct 31 2011: i think that been unified by a language would be much easier to travel and spread ideas. this is inevitable because it's efficient to work with one language, and that's what makes change. culture and history doesn't really matter, we live how we want not dictated by people who lived before us.
    • thumb
      Oct 31 2011: Yes, I believe you are right, that with one unified language, the world will be more efficient. Culture and history, however, do matter. Without knowing how and why people did what they did, we would stumble forward worse than we do now.
      • Oct 31 2011: i don't think that matters as you can see the global crysis has already happend and predicted, we already making the same mistakes, histori give us context of whatever is happening in a determined place or situation but is not a determinant fact for preventing mistakes. unifined language i think its inevitable whatsoever it's already happening.
    • thumb
      Nov 3 2011: Well it would be easier to spread ideas, but there would of course be less ideas to spread. Every word you know exist in a relation to all the other words you know. Different cultures arrange their reality drastically different ways and use language as a way of expressing that arrangement. As a language dies so does a unique perspective of our world. Striving for a monocrop of the mind among humans is surely not a wise route
      • Nov 3 2011: yeah, i think you are right in that aspect, we have a unique perspective of the world result of our unique context and history, dont know if thats good or bad i mean i dont know what would be the result of have an only language if you are also impliying to only have one culture.in the other hand we are already focusing in alot of atitudes, brought by global markets, i don't know how deep it can gets insides diferents societys.
        • thumb
          Nov 3 2011: Well I think it is great. Reality is much bigger than any one culture and the more perspectives we have of it the more resilient we will be as a species. Global markets don't really seek to promote culture as to sell it and the best way to do that is make it familiar. I much rather live in a world where there are differences between cultures and those differences are recognized. Not to say languages are not going to die, but when we reduce half the languages in the world in a lifetime, I have to wonder what is lost.
  • Nov 1 2011: Extinction? Yes
    Beneficial? No
    Harmful? Yes
    Avoidable? No
    Inevitable? Yes
  • thumb
    Oct 31 2011: could it ever be destroyed? even all the 1's and 0's?
  • thumb
    Oct 31 2011: 1. the current trend can not be just extrapolated to the future. if such a logic would hold, we could say that in a foreseeable future, there will be zero languages. obvious nonsense.

    2. culture has to be lost. we cannot remember each and every culture we've ever had. but loss of culture is not related to language. whatever knowledge or thought we deem valuable, we translate and spread. so if a knowledge goes down with a language, it was considered just as useless as the language itself. culture has to be lost in order to give place to new culture.
    • Oct 31 2011: That trend is not linear, the rate of decline will decrease. However, as stated above, we could eventually have only a few or possibly only one language. Our global interaction makes that a very real possibility.

      I agree that culture must be lost, but I also believe that language is a large part of and a basis of culture. Linear A would be much easier to decipher if we had people who still wrote in it. The issue for debate is not the relationship between language and culture but the effect that language "extinction" has and will have on humans in general.
      • thumb
        Oct 31 2011: how do you know how many languages will survive? 1, 10 or 50? or 250? how many is enough?

        language is a key to a culture, but once it is "opened", so to speak, we don't need the key anymore. in the era of the internet and terabyte size storages, i would not fear too much of losing the key to any piece of knowledge we need.
        • Nov 1 2011: I agree, however, it must be said that a computer disk can not match a human native speaker.