As languages such as English, Spanish and Mandarin become more widely spoken, there is a fear that many minority languages may die out. Some countries have taken steps to protect minority languages.
What is your view of this practice?
As the world becomes more integrated, the need for common means of communication is becoming more pressing. Inevitably, speakers of minority languages have been under pressure to speak the languages of more dominant groups, both locally and globally. Some people argue that there is nothing that can or should be done to stop this process. I would suggest that the issue merits more careful consideration.
It is true that as the balance of power among groups of people throughout history has shifted, languages have arisen, changed and died out. Even once widely-spoken languages, such as Latin, have disappeared. To some extent, therefore, this process may be inevitable. However, there are examples of communities that have managed to preserve and even revive languages under threat. Irish and Scots Gaelic, for example, have been preserved by government policy on education and broadcast media.
There are, indeed, several benefits to preserving minority languages. Retaining the language of a community often means that other forms of culture are maintained: songs, literature and local traditions. These all contribute to the richness and variety of human culture. Moreover, language helps communities to remain cohesive and to have a strong sense of identity. This can help people to be strong in adversity. Where this sense of identity and cohesion has been lost, for example among many indigenous communities in North America, problems can follow: low self-esteem, lack of confidence and loss of initiative.
In short, it is possible and in many cases, desirable, to make effort to preserve minority languages. This can have benefits both for the minority community and for society as a whole in terms of cultural richness.