As another spoken language is discovered in a remote part of India, I often wonder ‘will we ever know how many languages are spoken throughout the world?’
Just last August we wrote a blog regarding the discovery of unidentified hieroglyphic language in Scotland. Now researchers for National Geographic claim to have discovered a community of between 800 to 1200 people speaking Koro in North India.
Discoveries of such languages have often sparked debates as to whether or not the effort should be made to preserve them. It is estimated that around 25 languages a year become extinct; a prospect to some that is worth fighting against.
But surely, throughout the centuries, hundreds of languages have emerged and died without any documentation, which raises a similar conundrum to ‘if a tree falls in the forest with no one around to hear it, does it make a noise?’
In the same way that improved global transport and more international mobility changed languages and dialects, today’s use of technology has, and will continue to impact upon, the ways that languages are used and developed, and at a speed that has never been seen (or heard) before. This in itself presents language conservationists with a battle to preserve even the most commonly spoken discourse. Take English for example, which has been studied for centuries and which people have fought to preserve for just as long, yet it has not failed to evolve over time. At what point do we draw the line; should we still be conversing in the same way we did when Shakespeare was alive, or do we accept that no language can ever be preserved?
I feel there are no right or wrong answers to the questions I am asking, however I suspect that the topic will be up for debate repeatedly throughout time.