There are many forces that cause the reduction of linguistic diversity in the world. In most countries, there are different people from different cultural backgrounds but as time goes by, we find that most of these communities seem to have forgotten their languages and have integrated with the other communities and formed different common language. Roughly, five to six thousand languages are spoken in the world today. However, a hundred years from now, those numbers will certainly fall to a thousand or even less. Communities that were once self-sufficient are now finding themselves under intense pressure to integrate with their more powerful neighbours, with regional forces, or with invaders, which often leads to language loss and erosion of cultural identity. There are many reasons as to why there is the existence and the disappearance of languages in the world but the major reasons are due to politics, culture and economy.
According to the trend in which some of the languages are, becoming extinct it makes people believe that the world is adapting to the few languages that are dominant. Most researchers believe that around 50 percent to around 90 percent of most languages that are still existing will be lost in the near future (Aitchison & Carter, 2000, 214). The living language is seen to be evolving every now and then because of the development of new words while other vocabularies are being abandoned. Some of the mostly used languages are English, French, Chinese and Spanish. When it comes to the English language, there two types that are mostly used and are the American English and the British English. French language is also been used by two different countries which are the Canadians and France. The difference between them is the language acquisition, syntactic changes, semantics and vocabulary.
Popular literacy in education
In the past there were several indigenous groups of people whose language had flourished or continue to flourish such as the Lou and Zulu in Africa, Cherokee that is found in northern America and the other is Aymara that is found in south America (Austin & Sallabank, 2011, 225). The indigenous language is not able to continue been used because of education. The reason why this language loses popularity in most countries is because of lack of popular literacy. There are many people especially those writing and reading books from there non-native language that are not able to write books in their native languages. Most books are mostly written in English all over the world. This makes it had for children who are going to schools to continue knowing their languages.
The indigenous language can be used in schools this is because it does contain alphabet or some other form of writing systems that children can be able to understand. There are very few indigenous people whose native language have been written in books, or translated the bible and even have grammar lessons. Missionaries and some other linguistic people wrote this kind of books. In the education system, it always has a bilingual program that enables the children to read write in their native language in various parts of the world. Though this happens the children will grow up not writing in the their own native language but instead will continue writing in the popular language. These same children will also continue speaking in the popular language thus their children will adapt to that kind of language and will not be able to speak in their native language (Aitchison & Carter, 2000, 204).
In American schools, there are children from different cultural backgrounds and linguistic diversity. The school body is usually made up of whites thus the language that is commonly used is English. This is because most of the students have different languages therefore; the school cannot change its system into their native languages because it will not be able to cater for all the students. This shows how the native language is not part of the popular literacy that can be used unless ones native language is English or the other dominant languages in the world.
In America, there are so many people from different cultural backgrounds but according to the government, there are only five cultures that have been recognized. These groups are the Hispanic, Africans, Asians, Indians and the whites. It is a fact that when two languages integrate they are bound to borrow the language and mix it with their own. The two languages are able to be borrowed because the two communities try to learn from one another (Paskeviciute & Aida, 2006, p.780). This is why the pidgin language came about to be formed by people from countries such as Nigeria. When a native person is able to understand and speak a non-native language then the effects when they borrow the others language will be permanent thus will cause the future generations to speak like them thus distorting their native language and culture. The changes are due to the import of the other language vocabulary and syntactic changes.
The formation of the new language is very important for both of the two communities (Buhaug, 2009, p.560). This is because they will be able to communicate effectively and also it will form a bond between the two. There are many people in the world who are bilingual speakers. This is because of the different cultures that exist in one country such as United States of America and Britain. US is well known for having many people from different cultures and backgrounds therefore, it is bound to have people who are not able to speak the same languages. This is what has caused the government to recognize the Hispanic, Indians, African Americans, whites and Asians. When there is, a populous language been spoken, it will cause some of the native language to be extinct and thus will end up distorting the people’s cultures.
In the past, there were so many languages spoken in the world but in the present there are few languages that still remain leading in the world or are still been spoken. One of the main reasons why these languages have died out or are in the verge of becoming extinct is because of the rise of economy and development between people of the same country and their surrounding neighbours. When it comes to the topic of language diversity and the economy, it is well known to be a complex situation and has many linguistic people in search for answers. It has been observed that due to cross-dialectal comprehension people are unable to provide information to the other because they do not understand one another (Choi, 2002, 302). This has caused the people to form or design a new language that will be used for communication especially during the time when they are doing business or trade.
When it comes to economy, the linguistics people look at the geography of the people. The neighbour’s language, which at other times looks similar, will always have distinctive difference in the way they use their grammar, vocabulary and speech in that at times they are not able to understand one another. When it comes to the development of economy, many countries require external help from some of the developed countries in order to boost their economy. This causes the language being spoken by many to be used in order to have an effective communication (Caminal, 2008). This causes one particular language to increase in size in that many people all over the world will use it for communication or in their daily lives.
This will lead to the decline of the usage of the native language thus causing the decline of language diversity. In having the common language, trade or international trade will occur thus could make people or a country wealthy. It has been observed that the countries that usually have a common language will tend to do business together compared to those without. This could cause the growth of development of the regions. Most of the common languages used all over the world that has caused the growth of development of economy are English, French, Spanish, Chinese and in areas such as east Africa and some parts of Africa they use Swahili.
Technology is another force that has brought about the reduction of linguistic diversity. People from the dominant languages such as English, Chinese, French and Germany have created most of the technologies that are been used in the world (Russell, 1992, 200). This becomes a problem for the people because most of the manuals or programs cannot be translated to their native languages. This causes people to learn how to speak, read and write in those languages so that they can be able to operate those technologies. The computer system has many words, which cannot be translated into native languages. This is because the vocabulary of the word is something that cannot be formed into a native word because they probably do not exist.
In the past, it is believed that there were different people all over the world spoke more than 20,000 languages. There are some dominant cultural communities from various countries who were able to conquer and colonize some of the other countries who could be considered to be weak. The knowledge of the existence of the linguistic diversity all over the world was documented by the European colonial people or missionaries who visited different parts of the world in search of a better land to colonize. These people brought their culture and forced the country they colonized to follow. This also involved their languages (Mélitz, 2005). The colonized nations were taught on how to speak, read and write in the colony language. This enabled the colonies to be able to communicate effectively with the colonized people.
The languages by the colonials ensured that they looked at the grammar and vocabulary used so that the people will be able to formulate words that make sense. It became essential for the colonized nations to go to schools and learn the new language in order to get jobs as well. Colonization brought about the rural and urban areas. In the urban areas, there were creations of so many jobs but there was a requirement that people should be able to speak in the new language. After the colonization, United States had so many immigrants and slaves and that is why it has so many people from different cultural backgrounds. This caused the government to formulate a national language because of the difference in languages been spoken by different people in the country. The government looks at the mostly known and spoken language in the region and make it the national language.
In conclusion, there are many forces that cause the reduction of linguistic diversity in the world. According to researchers, there have been over 20,000 languages that were been spoken in the world in the past. The number has reduced dramatically over the years and it has been estimated that the number of languages will continue to decline. This causes people to worry because it seems that people will forget their roots and their customs and traditions once they forget their native languages. Some examples of the forces that are causing the reduction of linguistic diversity are colonization, economy, education, technology and cultural differences. Colonization is one of the forces that brought about the decline of linguistic diversity. This is because after colonization most of the colonies adopted the language and culture of the colonials (Mélitz, 2005). This is because they believed that by adopting those factors they would be able to be as superior as their colonials were to them. The other force that has led to linguistic diversity is economy. It is a fact that all countries in the world want to be superior to the other therefore, they make sure that their economy is very good. This has caused most countries to have a common language in order to do business effectively (Weber, 2011, 112).
Aitchison, J. & Carter, H. (2000). Language, economy, and society: The changing fortunes of the Welsh language in the twentieth century. University of Wales Press, 1-448.
Austin, P. & Sallabank K. (2011). The Cambridge handbook of endangered languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 211-245.
Buhaug, H. S. (2009). Geography, rebel capability, and the duration of civil conflict. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 544–569.
Caminal, R. (2008). Markets and linguistic diversity. Institut díAn‡lisi EconÚmica, CSIC.
Choi, E. K. (2002). Trade and the Adoption of a Universal Language. Internnational Review of Economics and Finance, 302.
Mélitz, J. (2005). Language and Foreign. CEPR Working Paper.
Paskeviciute, C. & Aida J. (2006). How Ethnic and Linguistic Heterogeneity Influence the Prospects for Civil Society: A Comparative Study of Citizenship Behavior. Journal of Politics, 783–802.
Russell, B. (1992). Preserving Language Diversity: Computers can be a tool for making the survival of languages possible. Cultural Survival, 125-300.
Weber, V. G. (2011). How Many Languages Do We Need?: The Economics of Linguistic Diversity. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 110-135.