<<< Re-writing linguistic history – (post)colonial reality on the fringes of linguistic theories
Globalization, dying languages and the futility of saving them
Anthony Onyemachi Agwuele (Institut für Philosophie, Universität Leipzig)
Globalization is the name of the prevailing interdependent pattern of production and consumption that has engulfed the world with deep social changes. The prior minimalist-interactionist relationship between cultures and societies has been replaced with increased connectivity of societies in economics, technology, politics, culture, language, etc. In this view, it is practically difficult for any society to claim to have its own cultural domain where its language alone holds sway in the conduct of its affairs. The mode of interaction associated with globalization precludes the isolation of any society. And given the erasure of cultural boundaries, the ever-increasing linguistic interactions between the developed world (with mainstream languages) on the one hand, and the underdeveloped world (with weak languages) on the other, do not occur in a neutral fashion. Rather globalization creates a sociolinguistic behavior that favors the expansion and acquisition of mainstream languages at the expense of the less empowered languages that have increasingly become endangered. On the basis of this, one of the main concerns of linguists is to save the so-called endangered languages.
In this paper, I argue that this activity is pointless and futile because there is nothing it can achieve beyond storing languages in textual forms or other devices and displaying them on the shelf. I show that it is not clear to what extent a language on the shelf is a language indeed. In other words, an unspoken language does not constitute a language in the real sense of it. Finally, I show that a case has not been justifiably made about the capacity of a language to express a pre-existent reality that posterity can re-create and as a result warrants the preservation of the language.