The Soul Dies When Language Is Buried — Part 2

The underground store rooms of the Forbidden City in Beijing housed the documents of the Manchuria dynasty which ruled China for more than three centuries.

The dilemma arose when the Manchurian empire was defeated.

Now, no one in China can read the Manchurian language. What was written in the official letters during that period of time was silenced.

Sinjoro Eng continues discussing the future of the languages in Part 2 of this series.

How long was the Manchurian empire in power before its rule in China ended? Was it a hundred years or less?

I watched a documentary while I was in China which revealed that the government sent people deep into the rural areas in northern China to look for any Manchurians who are left and can still read their ancestral language.

300 years of treasures just lay there, frozen, when the Emperor ordered the Manchurians to bury their identity to protect them from being murdered by the Han people.

A sample of Mongolian script. | Source: Image provided by author.

How do languages die ?

When a language is dead, who is on the losing side?

This is something many don’t contemplate. The worst part of it is that the linguists do not even mention a word of Esperanto in their books. They shed tears for history and they do not find a way to slow down the death of these languages or even try to stop it.

I would like to ask these linguists: what is the purpose of storing these languages in digital format and displaying them in museums?

Listen to this short audio clip from BBC and ask yourself the same question.

In 1992 a prominent US linguist stunned the academic world by predicting that by the year  2100, 90% of the world’s languages would have ceased to exist.

What will happen when languages die? This is what Dr K David Harrison has to say:

On the other hand, let us listen to Dr Nicholas Ostler talk about why we should protect endangered languages:

 

 


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After watching the 8 minutes short film of the late Dr Claude Piron on the chanllenge of language, Sinjoro ENG has himself revolutionised. Watch it and see whether the short film will touch you too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YHALnLV9XU

Posted on 8 June 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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3 Responses to The Soul Dies When Language Is Buried — Part 2

  1. Sinjoro ENG

    Saluton Musa

    If you do not speak your mother tongue language and you cannot communicate with the community, this would make you feel better. Go to your community and feel it, the history and culture, it might be old however, the history of the people in the community.

    Future is the from the past, if you can read the history of Chinese which discovered the lunar and others, you should sense the language was the tool help to preserve it till today that the lunar calendar has 28 and 29 days, just to show the scientific aspect of life in which you are persuing

    Finally, if you cannot appreciate the language, nothing can help, perhaps, you should cease to read the other parts.

  2. Musa_Ng

    Sinjoro Eng,

    Thank you for this second article in your series.

    I'm writing this whilst watching Stage 7 of this year's Criterium du Dauphine so I am unable to listen to the BBC audio clip nor watch the YouTube video. There is only that much multi-tasking I can do.

    I suspect that my background as a technical/scientific person makes me unable to appreciate the loss of cultural diversity when a language becomes extinct.

    The difficulty probably arises due to my inability to understand what the past means because I am too busy making the future happen for me. Is this an indictment of modern living? Maybe, but I dunno.

    In the meanwhile, I look forward to your other forthcoming articles on the subject :)