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Let Them Die. By Kenan Malik From Prospect, November 2000. Words and Structure expressing the extinction of language. When she dies, so will her language. Die Take…to the grave Kill off Pass away Disappear. Para. 1: When does a language die?.

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Let them die

Let Them Die

By KenanMalik

From Prospect, November 2000

Words and structure expressing the extinction of language

Words and Structure expressing the extinction of language

  • When she dies, so will her language.

  • Die

  • Take…to the grave

  • Kill off

  • Pass away

  • Disappear

Para 1 when does a language die

Para. 1: When does a language die?

  • Common sense – when the last speaker dies: Some endangered languages are listed.

  • Language Interaction Produces Bilingual Speakers.

  • Bilingual Individuals: “Drop” Language if not economically useful

  • people stop speaking a language and start speaking another – language shift

  • Most frequently – all speakers shift to other languages – Australia and Americas

  • If every speaker shifts and the original language is no longer spoken anywhere – language death

Statistics show that some languages are on the verge of extinction

Statistics show that some languages are on the verge of extinction.

How do languages become extinct

How do languages become extinct?

  • Languages become extinct when a community finds itself under pressure to integrate with a larger or more powerful group.

  • The community is pressured to give up its language and even its ethnic and cultural identity -- ethnic Kurds in Turkey, are forbidden by law to print or formally teach their language. Younger speakers of Native American languages, as recently as the 1960s, were punished for speaking their native languages at boarding schools.

  • Outright genocide -- When European invaders exterminated the Tasmanians in the early 19th century, an unknown number of languages died.

Why do languages die out

Why do languages die out?

  • official language policies: Occasionally by force – boarding school policy for American Indians from 1890s

  • Sometimes disease (Tasmania), flood, earthquakes, AIDS in Africa

  • Acceleration with rise of modern empires – French, English, Russian -- and migration

  • Socio-economic competition: Spread of an imperial language ---colonization, globalization

Many englishes

Many englishes

Source: p. 9, Kandiah, T. (1998) Why New Englishes?

Reasons for many varieties of english

Reasons for many varieties of English

  • Development of language in “new and unfamiliar contexts”

  • Contexts marked by different ecological, cultural, linguistic, social, etc. characteristics.

Para 2 4 campaign to preserve linguistic diversity

Para.2-4:campaign to preserve linguistic diversity

  • Consequences of language death:

    --language death results in the loss of unique biological and ecological knowledge.

    • Reduces knowledge about human language and mind

    • Death of unique cultures

Can dying languages be maintained

Can dying languages be maintained?

  • Serious attempts from mid-20th century in US, Australia, Europe

  • Subjects in school, media, education

  • Success is limited – economic and cultural factors



  • Absence of realistic domain except ceremonial and political

  • Requires motivation to overcome economic disadvantages

  • At best – will be used in formal situations



  • Success requires political support – usually absent with small languages

  • Success stories – French in Canada, Welsh, Maori, Hawaian, Catalan, Irish

  • Becomes a taught second language

Examples of success stories

Examples of success stories

  • Modern Hebrew was revived as a mother tongue after centuries of being learned and studied only in its ancient written form.

  • Irish has had considerable institutional and political support as the national language of Ireland, despite major inroads by English.

  • In New Zealand, Maori communities established nursery schools staffed by elders and conducted entirely in Maori, called kohangareo, 'language nests'.

  • In Alaska, Hawaii, and elsewhere, this model is being extended to primary and in some cases secondary school.

William hague

William Hague

  • William Hague is the Foreign Secretary and MP for Richmond in Yorkshire. He is a former leader of the Conservative Party.

  • He argued for “saving the pound” in his 2001 election campaign because he is Euro-skeptic.

Roger scruton

Roger Scruton

  • English philosopher who specializes in aesthetics

  • Conservative

  • He supported Ray Honeyford’s view on the future of multi-ethnic Britain: multi-cultural education was actually harmful for immigrant children.

  • His latest book, England: An Elegy tries to show England as reflected in its own ideals.

  • he claims that England died about the time he was at university. He got a pessimism about the fate of rural England and had a melancholy sense that western civilisation was doomed.

  • He claims English culture has become mediocratised in the last 10 years: the legitimisation of pop music and football as genuine manifestations of the nations culture being prime examples.

Para 5 12 the author s counter arguments

Para 5-12: The author’s counter-arguments

  • Some languages lose their function of communication. (para.5-6)

  • The preservers based their argument on the romantic notion of human differences and cultural differences, but the author believed that such belief is also the basis of a racial view of the world. (Para.7-10)

  • The confusions of the preservers: (para11-12)

Contrasts two kinds of arguments

Contrasts: Two kinds of arguments

Structure analysis

Structure Analysis

Language revitalization

Language revitalization

  • focuses on getting people to learn and speak a dying language and teach it to their children

What can we do to preserve dying languages

What can we do to preserve dying languages?

  • To conduct humanitarian aid work and recruit the young for the language revitalization project.

  • To express our desire to keep the indigenous culture and language alive.

  • To document endangered languages and doing all that can be done to maintain their use.

  • To approach the municipal government for help in not only preserving the disappearing language, but also in revitalizing it.

Let them die

  • To create a dictionary with all the possible entries for people to resort to.

  • To work out a concrete lesson plan for the younger generation the to use throughout the years.

  • To begin teaching classes to many of the community’s children and adults.

  • To apply for funding from the Endangered Language Fund so as to pay the workers in the community.

  • To let the government take action toward the extinction of their precious heritage.

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