Language death and language loss

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Information about Language death and language loss

Published on October 18, 2012

Author: desi13


Language Death and Language Loss

• A language dies when nobody speaks it any more. (Crystal, 2003: 1)• When all the people who speak a language die, the language dies with them. (Holmes, 1992: 61)

• Linguists estimate that of the approximately 6, 500 languages worldwide, about half are endangered or on the brink of extinction (Dastgoshadeh and Jalilzadeh, 2011).• Holmes (1992) states that Manx has completely died out in the Isle of Man.

• Cornish the effectively disappeared from Cornwall in the 18th century stated by Holmes (1992).• Between 50 and 70 kinds of Aboriginal language in Australia disappeared as a direct result of the massacre of Aboriginal people. (Holmes,1992).

• A community, such as Turkish in England may shift to English voluntarily. (Holmes,1992).• This involves the loss of the language for the individual concerned. (Holmes,1992).

When a language dies gradually, as opposed toall its speakers being wiped out by a massacre or epidemic, the process is similar to that of language shift. (Holmes,1992)

• The functions of the language are taken over in one domain after another by another language. (Holmes,1992).• As the domains in which speakers use the language shrink, the speakers of the dying language become gradually less proficient in it. (Holmes,1992).

Annie (20) is a young speaker of Study CaseDyirbal, an Australian Aboriginal language.She also speaks English which she learnedat school. There is no written Dyirbalmaterial for her to read, and there arefewer and fewer contexts in which she canappropriately hear and speak thelanguage. So she is steadily becoming lessproficiency in it. She can understand theDyirbal she hears used by older people inher community, and she uses it to speak toher grandmother. But her grandmother isscathing about her ability Dyirbal, sayingAnnie doesn’t speak the language properly.(Holmes,1992).

• Annie is experiencing language loss.• She uses English for most purposes, her vocabulary in Dyirbal has shrunk and shrunk.• Annie finds herself putting words in the order her grandmother uses in Dyirbal.• It is clear that Annie’s Dyirbal is very different from traditional Dyirbal.

• When Annie’s generation die, it is pretty certain Dyirbal will die with them.• The process of language death for the language comes about through this kind of gradual loss of fluency and competence by its speakers. (Holmes,1992).

With the spread of a majority group languageinto more and more domains, the number of contexts in which individuals use the ethnic language diminishes. (Holmes,1992)

• In the wider community the language may survive for ritual or ceremonial occasions. (Holmes,1992).• Those who use it will be a few in number and their fluency is often restricted to prayers and set speeches or incantations. (Holmes,1992).

• In Maori community in New Zealand, the amount of Maori used in ceremonies is entirely dependent on the availability of respected elders who still retain some knowledge of the appropriate discourse. (Holmes,1992).• Maori is now used in some communities only for formal ceremonial speeches, prayers for the sick, and perhaps for a prayer to open a meeting. (Holmes,1992).

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