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Culture & Religion

When Languages Die

“The loss of linguistic diversity means permanently shutting the door on a vast wealth of potential scientific knowledge.” Obit’s Axel Rose on the downside of English as lingua franca.

“It is no doubt true that English (or at least the culture English represents) offers a host of benefits to many far-flung communities—access to international trade, exposure to vaccines and antibiotics, plus the comforts and conveniences of modern technology—yet it almost necessarily comes at the expense of local traditions. As a result, 40 percent of the world’s 6,000-odd languages are currently endangered. … The linguist Noam Chomsky put it best when he wrote, ‘by studying the properties of natural languages, their structure, organization, and use, we may hope to learn something about human nature; something significant, if it is true that human cognitive capacity is the truly distinctive and most remarkable characteristic of the species.'”


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