Language can be viewed as an “anthropomorphic organism”, the life of which is independent of its users or speakers and can be developed on its own. There is much evidence in the academic literature regarding language endangerment caused by colonization and globalization (Mufwene 26). Language endangerment is associated with language diversification, “in which a language is influenced by others into whose territory it has been taken or which have been brought into its territory” (Mufwene 37). However, there is also a term “dying language” which means the death of a certain language caused by language shift. Dying languages include the Australian Aboriginal, American Indian languages and other aboriginal languages, which have no any opportunity for continual existence because of considerable political, cultural and social changes in human society. The death of a language is connected with the loss of native vocabulary because of the significant role of the dominant language. According to researchers, there are three ways that lead to language death: first, language death because of language shift; second, language death without language shift, and, third, “nominal language death through a metamorphosis”, when the language obtains dialect status (Austin 201).
One of the dying languages is the Australian language Warlpiri. Its roots contain dialects of other aboriginal languages of Australia. This language is dying because of the choices of individual speakers. Warlpiri is being replaced by English, as the dominant language of Australia. Undoubtedly, local people are trying to preserve this particular language. As the native people are dying, the language is dying with its speakers. Local people believe that Warlpiri language should be taught in schools because of the danger of the language dying out (Austin 220). Today, the Warlpiri language, as a dying language, undergoes certain changes in its vocabulary, structure and grammar because of the effects of the dominant language.
Generally speaking, the problem of the death of languages requires finding the proper solutions. Massive extinction of aboriginal languages may have a negative impact on the cultural development of our society. It is necessary to develop the proper strategies aimed at survival of dying languages. Actually, governments should create the proper resources to effectively address this problem. It becomes clear that “the death of languages represents an irretrievable loss to science and constitutes the loss of a portion of humanity” (Campbell 16). In other words, language death means the loss of its contribution to the study of the significance of human language in general, and leads to failure in understanding of human cognition.
In fact, a global or common language should never replace less influential languages, which are now under the threat of extinction. According to researchers, the English language is considered to be a global language, which facilitates the process of globalization, promotes progress and diversification. The English language, as a global language, “affects the standing of other languages”(Crystal 124). It is necessary to promote the functioning of English as a global language, but, at the same time, pay due attention to other languages.
Thus, it is necessary to conclude that today many aboriginal languages are under threat. Different factors contribute to the decline of languages, including political, cultural and social factors. Some languages are dying because many of their speakers have died. Other languages are dying because there is no link between generations. As a rule, the death of a particular language is associated with the loss of its vocabulary and grammatical structure because of the effects of the dominant language. The Warlpiri language is an example of a dying language. English as a global language should not be rejected in order to facilitate communication and enhance globalization. However, the proper actions should be taken by governments to save dying languages to avoid the loss of human intellectual heritage.
Austin, Peter. “Structural change in language obsolescence: Some eastern Australian examples,” Australian Journal of Linguistics, 6. 2 (1986): 201-230. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
Campbell, Lyle. American Indian Languages. Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.
Crystal, David. English as a Global Language. Cambridge University Press, 2012. Print.
Mufwene, Salikoko. S. “Colonization, Globalization, and the Future of Language in the 21st Century,” Journal on Multicultural Societies, 4. 2 (2002): 1-48. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.