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Never mind the whales, save languages!

Never mind whales, save the languagesA recent article in The Australian on dying languages contains a number of gems.

It leads off rather well by asking

Worried about the loss of rainforests, the ozone layer, quokkas? Well, none of those is doing any worse than a large majority of the 6000 to 7000 languages that remain in use on earth. One-half of the survivors will almost certainly be gone by the middle of this century...
and calls recent interest in disappearing languages the "flavour of the month".

About half-way through the article, the question is posed: "Who is to blame?"

The answer: Noam Chomsky.

What, you might say? How is the famous linguist responsible for languages disappearing all around the world? I always thought that bilingualism was to blame.

Over the years, there has been plenty of criticism of Chomsky and his disciples. That may not be surprising for somebody as outspoken as Chomsky. On the other hand, Chomsky has recently started speaking out on behalf of disappearing languages.

So, is this article just mud-slinging in the ivory tower or shedding more light on a fundamental issue with Chomsky's work? You be the judge...

[Tip of the hat to Kommunikation og Sprog!]


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