Biography[ edit ] Gould said he was inspired to become a paleontologist by T.
The linguist Anvita Abbi, who knew Boa Senior for many years, said: She was often very lonely and had to learn an Andamanese version of Hindi in order to communicate with people.
Aka-Bo, like many other extinct languages, did not make a difference to the lives of the vast majority of people. Yet the sense that we lose something valuable when languages die is familiar.
Just as familiar, though, is the view that preserving minority languages is a waste of time and resources. I want to attempt to make sense of these conflicting attitudes.
The simplest definition of a minority language is one that is spoken by less than half of some country or region. Usually, when we talk of minority languages, we mean languages that are minority languages even in the country in which they are most widely spoken.
That will be our focus here. The sorrow we feel about the death of a language is complicated. It also marked the loss of the culture of which she was once part; a culture that was of great interest to linguists and anthropologists, and whose extinction resulted from oppression and violence.
All these things — the oppression until death of a once thriving culture, loneliness, and losing loved ones — are bad, regardless of whether they involve language death. Part of our sadness when a language dies, then, has nothing to do with the language itself. Thriving majority languages do not come with tragic stories, and so they do not arouse our emotions in the same ways.
Unsurprisingly, concern for minority languages is often dismissed as sentimental.
Researchers on language policy have observed that majority languages tend to be valued for being useful and for facilitating progress, while minority languages are seen as barriers to progress, and the value placed on them is seen as mainly sentimental.
Sentimentality, we tend to think, is an exaggerated emotional attachment to something. It is exaggerated because it does not reflect the value of its object. If the value of minority languages is mainly sentimental, it is comparable to the value that Cohen placed on his old eraser.
It would be cruel to destroy it deliberately, yet it would be unreasonable for him to expect society to invest significant resources preserving it.
The same might be true of minority languages: There are a couple of responses to this. First, the value of minority languages is not purely sentimental. Languages are scientifically interesting. There are whole fields of study devoted to them — to charting their history, relationships to other languages, relationships to the cultures in which they exist, and so on.
Understanding languages even helps us to understand the way we think. Some believe that the language we speak influences the thoughts we have, or even that language is what makes thought possible.
The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is certainly linked to a variety of dubious myths and legends, such as the pervasive but false belief that Eskimos have a mind-bogglingly large number of words for snow.
But its core idea is not as wrong-headed as Pinker believes.Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking. Endangered languages have sentimental value, it’s true, but are there good philosophical reasons to preserve them?
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Free romantic love papers, essays, and research papers. Stephen Jay Gould (/ ɡ uː l d /; September 10, – May 20, ) was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of grupobittia.com was also one of the most influential and widely read authors of popular science of his generation.
Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.