Languages are living systems spoken by small communities and large nations. They are shaped by individuals who treasure their native languages, passing them down from generation to generation.
Nonetheless, many languages become extinct throughout history. The Gothic language in Europe, Coptic language in Africa, and Sumerian language in Asia are just a few instances of languages that disappeared from the face of the earth.
Languages pass away whenever the number of their speakers converges to zero. One of the most recent losses includes the Mandan language of North Dakota in the United States. The year of extinction has been determined as 2016.
Celtic tiger out of breath
When Ireland overcame difficult times in the 20th century, the country emerged as one the fastest-developing countries in Europe. However, the Irish language has been struggling and losing its speakers, facing the threat of extinction more than ever.
Whereas English is a Germanic language, Irish belongs to the group of Gaelic languages. The Irish language is as distant from English as a simple ‘Hello!’ is from its Irish counterpart ‘Dia dhuit’.
The government and revivalists are attempting to bring the language back to everyday life, but young people seem uninterested. The language is indeed beautiful, but fairly impractical.
Today, fewer than 100,000 speakers use the Irish language in their everyday conversation. Modern life makes young people turn to English, which has far more potential to help them communicate with the world.
Nowadays, Iceland is a tremendously popular destination but the language has been under threat of digital extinction, too.
If you look at a map, this small island is isolated from the rest of the world. No wonder its language is naturally resistant to foreign influences. This is compensated for by enthusiasts who coin new words, drawing inspiration from the ancient past.
One of the challenges was to create terminology for products of modern technology. For example, the Icelandic word for a computer, tölva, combines two words for ‘marriage’ and ‘prophetess’. And the word for a web browser, vafri, is derived from the verb ‘to wander’.
Today, this cool language is spoken by fewer than 340,000 people. In an age of ever-increasing globalization and digitization, Icelandic is being devoured by the omnipresent English.
Connecting the world
English is undeniably becoming the language of the world. It’s dominating all areas of society — the internet, business, culture and academic discourse. We are accustomed to seeing English everywhere, and it doesn’t surprise us in the least.
The English language is becoming stronger by embracing all influences and using whatever material comes in to its advantage. It is an official language in 67 countries, spoken by almost 400 million native speakers and twice as many non-native speakers.
Dozens of new words are introduced into the language every day, making it the most versatile language on the planet. And simply put, the English language is making the world a better place.
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