There is a common agreement that if we do not watch our languages, around 3,000 of the 6,000 (approximate figure) languages will die or fade away within the fifty years. Most of the Native American languages have gone extinct or are endangered. A few languages such as Navajo are enjoying a resurgence. Ethnographers are rushing to record the elders who are the last speakers of their language.
Like ASL users in the late 1800's and early 1900's, Native Indians were feared, therefore their children had to assimilate in society of the majority. This is only one of many reasons why languages die.
What's the point you may ask. Languages do die or fade away anyway. It happens so why are we carping on it?
It is the rate, the death march of languages is faster than ever in this increasing globalized world. We could imagine a Hall of Languages (a museum) where we could look at all recorded information about languages which have died at the hands of humans, not the natural deaths, but deaths by persistent monolingual attitudes, forced assimilation, language policies, media use of majority language with disregard for native minority languages and so on.
The Hall of Languages will show the rate of language deaths to be within the 20th and 21st centuries, highest ever in the hands of the human species. This would be similar to the story of Easter Island where almost all native flora and fauna is extinct and the collapse of a system happens. Sustainability, adaption and symbiotic relationships are important.
Without the variety of languages, how else can we borrow, play, create fads, or insert some 'excitement' in an overused languages such as English, French or German?
Native populations have begun to take their own back, some successfully (Hebrew, Navajo, some Sign languages such as ASL, BSL) and some not so successfully (Irish, some African languages). There is more work ahead and we will continue to see some language deaths but hopefully in a more realistic manner.
Go bilingual or multilingual, your world will continue to expand. There is nothing to fear but fear itself.
To Be Whole
Currently I am an ASL teacher at a local college and at an high school. I received my Masters in Sign Language Education from Gallaudet University. At home, I am an activist within the community, Northwest Indiana. My son is in first grade and my daughter goes to E.C.L.I.P.S.E. ASL Preschool. Change begins with you and change is effective with a team.