Language is an important aspect of a people’s culture and a reflection of their history and links with the land. However, in this internet age, one language has risen to global dominance, leaving hundreds to wither and die. It is important to defend and preserve languages that may no longer be considered viable forms of communication, which is why projects such as the Scottish Government’s Gaelic language plan and the work of the Endangered Language Documentation Programme is to be applauded.
Defending endangered languages
Language is a reflection of a people’s culture and an important indicator of how people think and react. Languages often have deep roots in a community and reflect that community’s history and its links with the land on which the people live and work. Now, however, with the internet and global media streaming services, there has been an increasing homogenisation and domination of English, and particularly of American English, as an international language, which has obvious benefits for communication between cultures, but which also puts additional pressure on languages that are under threat.
When only 50,000 people speak a language like, for example, Scottish Gaelic, then where is the motivation to continue teaching the language within the community or beyond? Without positive support from governments, there is a very real threat that hundreds of languages will disappear from use altogether, so it is pleasing to see that official bodies, like the Scottish Government, are doing what they can to save this important cultural heritage within and beyond the community.
However, not all endangered languages are so fortunate, which is why it is heartening to discover the existence of private programmes that readily admit they will not be able to save many of these languages as contemporary means of communication between people, they are at least trying to save them for posterity.
One of these is the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) at SOAS University of London, which was founded in 2002 with the aim of preserving endangered cultural heritage and ecosystems. For more than a decade ELDP has dedicated itself to the preservation of endangered languages globally by documenting them. They achieve this by providing funds to scholars enabling them to conduct field work and archive their collections, making them freely available.
ELDP has created a network of specialists around the world who continue to document endangered languages, educate new generations of scholars and conduct research on these languages.
Traductanet is dedicated to helping people communicate across languages and we have teams of highly-qualified linguists who can ensure your message is transmitted perfectly while also create terminologies that can be used within your area that can then be shared with others to help prevent misunderstandings and keep your language from becoming endangered.