A Word of Difference

URL http://www.resurgence.org/magazine/article2597-A-W...
Summary Links between biological and linguistic diversity

A Word of Difference

There is much in common between biological and linguistic diversity. If we destroy them, life of sorts may continue, but our ‘aliveness’ will be threatened.

I RECENTLY ASKED a class of students, representing ten nationalities from around the world, how many languages were spoken in their country. All except one – a Belgian – immediately responded by saying “one”. I suggested they research the topic and report back to the next class. The Iranian student caused the most surprise during the feedback session when he gave the figure of eighty-nine. Statistics were based on Indigenous, or endemic, languages, not including recent immigrants.

One language dies with its last speaker about every two weeks, taking with it the accumulated history and knowledge of that culture's reciprocal knowledge with the land.

Maurice Carder is responsible for students’ mother-tongue education at the Vienna International School; his most recent book is Bilingualism in International Schools.

Resurgence 250 Sept/Oct 2008