this is different from language loss historically
Ken Hale (Language 1992):
[T]he process of language loss throughout most of human history,
i.e., the period prior to the development of large states and empires,
has been attended by a period of grammatical merger in situations of
multilingualism, in geographically confined areas, and among quite small
communities [...]. By contrast, language loss in the modern period is
of a different character, in its extent and implications. It is part
of a much larger process of LOSS OF CULTURAL AND INTELLECTUAL DIVERSITY
in which politically dominant languages and cultures simply overwhelm
indigenous local languages and cultures, placing them in a condition
which can only be described as embattled.
loss in specific communities
Language loss has a profound impact on indigenous and minority communities
and revitalization and maintenance efforts by concerned people can make
a big difference in the way the community values not only its language
but, even more, its entire culture.
Our languages are the cornerstone of who we are as a people.
-- Mary Richards and Ida Bear, Winnipeg [Canada]. (In Richardson 1993:
Our language is one of God's blessings that our forefathers received
thousands of years ago. Our parents have conserved Kaqchikel, and we
cannot simply cast it off now as if it were worth nothing. God gave
us talent though Kaqchikel; either we bury it or we make it multiply.
-- Kaqchikel [Guatemala] Integrated Development Center. (In Fishman
It would not be a good thing for the Mixe language to disappear
because it represents our culture. We have inherited it from our ancestors.
If it were to be lost, nothing would be left from the past and our brothers
would not know each other. -- Mixe speaker [Mexico]. (In King
I was not taught my language. My mom says my dad didn't want us
to learn, because when he was going through school he saw what difficulty
his peers were having because they had learned Hualapai first, and the
schools were all taught in the English language. And so we were not
taught, my brothers and I.
I don't feel complete... Sometimes I feel apart from my peers, the ones
that are my age and do speak, and they all know that I don't speak...
Coming to terms with my identity and seeing my deficiencies, I could
tell the kids today that if you don't know your language, you will feel
[as I do]. -- Young Hualapai [U.S.A.] man. (In Hornberger 1996:
Preservation [...] is what we do to berries in jam jars and salmon
in cans. [...] Books and recordings can preserve languages, but only
people and communities can keep them alive. -- Nora Marks Dauenhauer
and Richard Dauenhauer, Tlingit [Alaska] oral historians. (In Lord 1996: