Language in Danger | Teen Ink

Language in Danger

October 23, 2008
By Anonymous

The one statistic about the world which I never noticed before that scared me into reading Andrew Dalby's book, Language in Danger, was “Every two weeks the world loses another indigenous language.” The realization dawned on me from that second, and I knew that my father had always been right when he said I had turned to American and lost my Indian roots. My father always scolds me that one day I will forget my native languages, Gujarati and Marathi, two Indian dialects. Yet, I never cared because I felt no need to speak languages that no one had even heard of. Also, thousands of people in the world are still speaking them so why should it matter if one person speaks it or not. Obviously, I got that outlook all wrong because those same thousands of people probably think that there is no harm in not speaking their native language. This kind of critical thinking will lead the human race to lose their identity. Instead, your book mentions the fact that people choose to learn worldwide languages due to their popularity and demanding needs. I saw that immediately applied to me as I taught myself eminent languages like Hindi, minimal Latin and Persian, and even attempted Arabic, the hardest language according to me. From that moment on I knew I had to change.

The next week, I decided to go to temple unlike every other time when I have too much lassitude to go. I got some books on my native languages and started practicing every day for half and hour. After weeks, I surprisingly found that I did not even fully know my languages from the beginning and that I sometimes had problems forming mediocre sentences with richer vocabulary. I am glad that I realized I still have a lot to learn about Gujarati and Marathi before I can move on to studying other languages that I have always dreamed about. More so, it’s nice to know I know unique languages that are dying out.
Not only did I change, but I finally uncovered a bothering question which I had labored over for hours trying to figure out. That question is, “How can Arabic belong to the Semitic family and the Persian belong to the Indo-European family when the written form uses similar scripts, similar vocabulary, and are Islamic.” I had a few other unanswered questions before I read this book, but at last I saw that the world knows how to diffuse and create new languages as people interact. When these indigenous languages are forgotten, many traditions and customs follow the lead. If I had never picked up this book, my father might have never proved his point, and I would have surely forgotten my tongue that my parents had wished I would always speak. So till this day, I practice Gujarati and Marathi in hope that I can once teach my children the same languages that are dwindling in numbers.

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