Tuesday, February 28, 2006

America's Linguistic Empire

During my linguistic studies, I came to understand the plight of lesser-spoken languages. I just heard about an ongoing program, The Rosetta Project, that is attempting to catalog the world's languages and provide a means of resurrecting them when nearing, or after the point of, extinction.

Unfortunately, American English is quickly becoming the world's lingua franca, and I'm not too pleased. News like this only makes American schoolchildren more adamant that they do not need to learn a second language because "everybody speaks English".

The thing to remember in all of this is that every dominant language eventually falls. Look at Ancient Greek & Latin. French is gradually declining as a dominant language, although this does not mean that its study should be forsaken. It takes many generations of increasingly declining usage to lessen the dominance of a language.

In short, the Anglo invasion of the world will eventually become a fallen empire, leaving room for a new language to usurp it. I'm betting on one of the Asian languages (Chinese? Japanese?).

English is now dominant, but it will not remain so. I am reminded of Thomas Cole's series of paintings entitled The Course of Empire that shows the path that all empires take, from pastoral beginnings to fire-and-brimstone decimation and back to nature once again. This, too, shall pass.

Photo: Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Desolation 1836. From his series The Course of Empire

5 comments:

BeckEye said...

I'm dying to learn Gaelic. But I'm so lazy, it'll probably never happen.

So, how's life in Pittsburgh?

Melanie said...

Well, things are back to normal...meaning you can actually go through an entire day without hearing a word about the Steelers.

It's cold and miserable here...I can't wait for it to finally warm up! I don't imagine it's any better in NYC at present.

I'm going to check out a jam session tonight in Coraopolis...gotta do something to stave off the winter doldrums!

How's life in NYC?

BeckEye said...

Yep, still cold up here! I can't wait for Spring. I also will get to visit the fam at Easter time, so I'm looking forward to my trek back to the Burgh.

I must admit...I never tire of hearing about the Steelers. :)

Sangroncito said...

I am fascinated by the evolution of languages, and this post is just the kind of topic I love.
It's good to know there are other language nuts out there, too! If only we had more of us in the world....

Fitèna said...

You bet on Chinese or Japanese, from a study done by Canal +, its Chinese.

I've been trying to teach myself Italian while everybody is telling me to try spanish instead because its "more widely spoken". I don't believe one should learn a language for a reason like that. Am fluent in three languages so they think am wasting my time learning more!

Fitèna