In the settings of the contemporary world, elders of a given community have come to be the only informants of their respective indigenous languages. In some situations, parents may be using their indigenous language, but fail to pass it to their children, especially in the modern lifestyle (Evans, 2010). The current number of children who learn their respective indigenous language in the traditional way has assumed a rapid decline. As a result, the next century might see over a half of the indigenous languages in the world to vanish away, without having them put into the proper records. This is not to mention that hundreds of languages have already disappeared in the preceding centuries. This paper will consider the advantages and disadvantages of revitalizing indigenous languages (Evans, 2010).
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One of the benefits of reviving indigenous language is that it can make the aspect of conserving the diversity of different people and communities. Ideally, the loss of an indigenous language is comparable to losing rare species of a bird, tree or animal. The loss of a certain indigenous language could translate to a loss of the fruit of many years of close observation of nature through the use of words and expressions in the language. Safely, reviving indigenous language could go a long way in safeguarding the cultural identity, dignity, and the traditional heritage of the concerned indigenous people (Evans, 2010).
In another light, the aspect of letting indigenous languages would leave many people, and school going children in particular monolingual. In effect, this would be a great blow to intellect given that research has established that a bilingual person has a higher intellectual capability than a monolingual one does (Evans, 2010). In particular, bilinguals have exhibited higher mental flexibility, the ability to think without help of words, and most significantly enhanced skills in solving problems. In this regard, one can argue that an indigenous language lays a platform for a child to be creative in his or her conceptualization of things, later in life (Fontaine, 2012).
Through revitalizing indigenous languages, diverse people would have proclaimed the right to make use of their languages adequately. Ideally, many countries should overlook this fundamental right of people when carrying out their national legislation policies. Over time, this approach has seen certain countries granting the official status to certain languages, while the indigenous languages have never gained even legal recognition. In this regard, revitalization of indigenous languages could go a long way in ensuring that different people from all corners of the globe gain their basic right of maintaining and using their own language. As a result, these people could be in a position of accessing education in their own language, gaining legal/constitutional recognition, and accessing the media in their local languages among other benefits (Pfeiler, 2007).
Another advantage of revitalizing indigenous language is its impact on the schooling system. Research, in this regard, has made it clear that it is extremely hard to keep children in school and have them learn if the concerned educational institution does not use learners’ language or, at least, respect their culture. In light of this, one can argue that revitalization of indigenous languages is of paramount significance. Such a move can caution ethnic minorities from marginalization, particularly in light of the fact that education is arguably the foundation of the contemporary, postmodern society (Fontaine, 2012).
In a further examination of the benefits of reviving indigenous languages, from the historical events, one gets to know that social ills accompany the loss of a language culture of people. In this observation, the inevitable loss of over a half of the world’s current indigenous languages by the fall of the next century could translate to higher poverty levels, abuse of drugs and alcohol, poor health, and family violence among other costly social issues in human society (Fontaine, 2012).
However, revitalization of local languages is not all good, it has some shortcomings. Among indigenous people, poverty and social-economic indicators are the lowest. As an example, the indigenous people of Latin America are mostly poor and do not tend to show any improvement of their status over time. As such, this observation paints revitalization of indigenous language in bad colors, as it seems to be a path to high poverty levels. Apart from Latin America, the social-economic status of people using indigenous languages in the developing world with emphasis on African and Asia reveals a similar trend of poverty levels (Evans, 2010).
Additionally, the aspect of seeking to uphold the right of indigenous languages so that they are recognizable by the law is quite expensive to any single country. In Africa, where there are some countries with hundreds of indigenous languages, the demand to revitalize and lawfully recognize such minorities can be financially unrealistic. In the light of the fact, among hundreds of indigenous language-speaking people, each community would demand their own system of educational institutions to be funded by the state (Evans, 2010). The upholding of individual community groups, where language is the criteria may elicit ethnic divisions, which are not healthy for a unitary and integrated state. With Africa as a reference, the aspect of revitalizing indigenous languages can be of serious harm, considering the fact that numerous conflicts have erupted out of ethnic division. In the African context, for example, the aspect of having national languages and disregarding the indigenous ones can be more beneficial (Fontaine, 2012).
Another argument against advocating for indigenous languages is that this approach tends to bring divisions at the time the world is seeking to become a global village. In the contemporary, postmodern settings, people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and races, among other demarcations of the human being, are able to interact on the platform of technology and partly due to the wide usage of the global languages, like English or Spanish. On the other hand, businesses are becoming global, while on the political scene, leaders engage themselves in crafting policies that will sooner rather than later get them to the global scene, on a daily basis. In light of this reality, it is true to say that any individual community that tends to retreat to carrying out its activities using its own indigenous language is likely to remain behind, in terms of development. Without doubt, this could be the explanation why some indigenous communities in Asia and Africa remain poor at large (Evans, 2010).
In conclusion, it is significant to weigh the pros and cons of revitalizing indigenous languages in the contemporary settings of the society. Any individual community would be happy to pass on its language to the next generation with an intension to pass on its identity, traditional wisdom, and values. Research findings have shown that being bilingual helps people both intellectually and socially, which is a significant argument in support of indigenous languages (Fontaine, 2012). As such, no government should afford to sit and watch its indigenous communities disappear without trying to mitigate it. Equally significant, individuals from various communities should be keen to nurture the younger generations in the ways of their languages. However, it is also safe to state that some levels of advocacy concerning indigenous languages, like having schools learn in those languages, can serve to draw such communities away from the global scene (Evans, 2010).
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