What Role does Language Revitalization Play

If one takes a close look at the human civilization one will be able to notice that the development of it is closely connected to the development of language. Indeed, one might argue that the humans were able to develop their civilized form when they found a way to communicate with each other on matters other than hunting game, let alone when they invented a language. In any case, it would be logical to assume that the latter played an important role in the formation of the early human societies. However, as the centuries went by, some languages of the past were gradually replaced by more potent as well as popular languages. Language revitalization is an essential part of the preservation of a culture and such efforts are worthwhile because they benefit the humanity.

Benefits of language revitalization

To begin with, it is important to point out a simple fact: language is the fundamental means of communication of a certain cultural group. This means that if language disappears, the communication between representatives of a specific culture will be obstructed. In spite of the fact that they will still be able to communicate using a different language altogether, it is highly doubtful that they will be able to convey the cultural message in full. That is why language revitalization preserves the culture by protecting the essential channels of communication and ensuring that the messages that are passed among the speakers are not distorted.

 Secondly, one might note that being able to speak a specific language often serves as a marker of identity (Maxwell Braun). Indeed, when children are brought up, they are taught not only customs and traditions, but also their language which becomes a natural framework within which they learn new knowledge. Therefore, mastering a language completes a certain phase of socialization and makes a child a rightful representative of a specific group. This may not be vital for groups that have plenty of representatives and are dominant in the social environment; however, it is of crucial importance for those groups the number of representatives of which is not that big. As a result, language revitalization enables more and more people to develop a proper identity.

The next aspect might be considered to be the logical continuation of the previous one: the more people who speak the same language, the higher is the cohesion within the group. One would make no mistake arguing that it is difficult to agree on abstract ideals and ideas when people literally speak different languages. That is why a cultural group often strives to ensure that all of its representatives will be speakers of the same language so that this creates the required level of cohesion among them (Harbeck). In other words, the more common points people have, the easier it will be for them to find common ground in other aspects of life. Therefore, language revitalization has a positive impact on group cohesion as well.

Finally, one should keep in mind that language might be seen as a reflection of human experience to a certain extent. As a result, a specific language bears traces of all the hardships as well as victories of the past, allowing people to access this treasury of knowledge via daily use of a language. In other words, while this may not be visible in every single instance, but the use of language is positively correlated with the history of a cultural group. Therefore, language revitalization ensures that the human experience that was generated by the latter will not only be preserved but also passed on to the younger generations so that they can benefit from it.

Is language revitalization worthwhile?

Therefore polar positions regarding this questions with each having solid evidence to back it up. For example, those who support language revitalization initiatives point out that “every language furthers and refines our understanding of cognition, communications systems, the nature of the mind and the different ways people categorize our collective human experience” (Maxwell Braun). One can hardly argue that the proper understanding of cognition, communication systems as well as the worldview of the people represent parts of the world that need to be studied properly. Therefore, if languages die, the linguists will not be able to explore this problem in great depth. As a result, the entire humanity will suffer which leads to a logical conclusion: language revitalization worthwhile.

Nevertheless, there are scholars who believe quite the opposite. For example, they point out tribalism plays an important role in some of the social environments; so, when it comes to preservation of a language and preservation of a relatively big group of people, it would be logical to sacrifice the first in order to preserve the latter (Harbeck). Indeed, sometimes language serves not only as a marker of identity but also as a market of an enemy; therefore, it would be humane for the scholars to stop reviving languages in those environments when they will be treated with hostility. In other words, the question of whether languages should be preserved all the times is not a simple as there are many reservations that need to be made.

The evidence taken from real-life shows that language revitalization may be a wonderful experience and can even reverse the process of language death. For example, Cherokee language used to suffer from a shortage of native speakers; however, due to various successful initiatives, the number of people who speak Cherokee as their first language has increased which gives hope that this language will not die (Maxwell Braun). This is wonderful news since it shows that sometimes it is possible to save a language that was on the brink of extinction. This clearly shows that such efforts are worthwhile since they can be very rewarding and helpful to the people around.

Finally, one might turn to the example of Ojibwe immersion school in order to demonstrate that language revitalization programs can be a significant positive impact on the community. Thus, prior to the creation Ojibwe immersion school, the people who belonged to the Native American community struggled to find their place in the society and suffered from various addictions as well as high suicide rates (Wisconsin Public Television Education). However, all this changed when Ojibwe immersion school was established: people were able to see that the process of mastering the language of their forefathers helped to find a place in the diverse community. One might go as far as saying that this initiative contributed to the stability of the social environment by building a strong foundation for the Ojibwe people.

Conclusion

Having examined all the points that were mentioned in the paragraphs above, one is able to come to the following conclusion: language revitalization plays an important role when it comes to preservation of a culture since it protects an effective means of communication, reinforces the market of identity, contributes to group cohesion, and generally ensures that human experience generated by one group will be passed to another. As for the question whether such efforts are worthwhile, one may not give an unambiguous answer, yet the evidence suggests that the positive aspects surely outweigh the negative ones. Indeed, though language revitalization might cause some problems in the societies where tribalism in strong, on average it brings only positive outcomes.

Works Cited

Harbeck, James. “Why Do We Fight so Hard to Preserve Endangered Languages?” The Week, 2015, theweek.com/articles/541609/why-fight-hard-preserve-endangeredlanguages.

Maxwell Braun, David. “Preserving Native America’s Vanishing Languages – National Geographic Blog.” National Geographic Blog, 2009, blog.nationalgeographic.org/2009/11/15/preserving-native-americas-vanishing-languages/.

Wisconsin Public Television Education. “Waadookodaading: Ojibwe Language Immersion School.” YouTube, YouTube, 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SPbzwUnmoo.

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"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: April 1, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: April 1, 2020]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: April 1, 2020]