Language Endangerment Can Affect Cultural, Economic, and Spiritual Goals

Language endangerment is a serious concern. For a variety of reasons, speakers of many smaller languages stop using them and begin using another language that may not reflect their heritage. Parents may begin to use only that second language and gradually the inter-generational transmission of the native language is reduced and may even cease. If there are no speakers who use the language as their first or primary language, the culture of the people may be affected.

As we learn from the IMC e-Field Trip, language is constructed on the foundation of the culture. If an indigenous culture is taught to speak a language developed from another culture, the question is what is added and what is lost. How can the impact on the culture be measured?

Language development is the result of the series of on-going planned actions that language communities take so they can effectively use their languages to achieve their social, cultural, political, economic, and spiritual goals. Many native communities are taking steps to preserve the vitality of their languages and to find new ways of using them.

Here is an IMC People Group Fact:

Jula is the trade language of western Burkina Faso and northern Cote d’Ivoire. It is designated by the government to be one of five languages to be developed for literature. 

This graph shows the place of Jula within the cloud of all living languages. Each language in the world is represented by a small dot that is placed on the grid in relation to its population (in the vertical axis) and its level of development or endangerment (in the horizontal axis), with the largest and strongest languages in the upper left and the smallest and weakest languages (down to extinction) in the lower right.

Language Cloud for Jula

  • Purple = Institutional (EGIDS 0-4) — The language has been developed to the point that it is used and sustained by institutions beyond the home and community.

To learn more, visit the International Museum of Cultures. (IMC)