“Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.”
Indian civilization and culture dates back to 8000 BC. Language has played a prominent part in the development of its rich culture. Yet it is disheartening to know that in a civilization which is often regarded as the oldest in the world, about 197 of its languages are facing extinction. In a recent survey conducted by UNESCO, India topped the list with the maximum number of disappearing languages and dialects. This abysmal statistical conclusion highlights the necessity to take proper steps to preclude Indian languages from going into extinction.
Several factors could be put forward for the declining use of a particular language. With increasing number of people settling down and working abroad, the native languages are forgotten and not spoken. In the midst of aping the West, Indians forget about their own culture and language. Communicating in one’s mother tongue is often considered shameful. It is a bitter truth that majority of the younger generation, living in urban cities finds it difficult to read and write their own language. They are more comfortable interacting in English. On one hand, it is extremely important to be at ease with English, as it is a universal language but on the other hand, the fact that English is a foreign language remains. Many other countries and cultures like Chinese and Spanish primarily use their own language for their education and work while maintaining a good knowledge of English. Using one’s own language in studies and work helps one perform better.
According to studies conducted, only half of the languages alive today would be used by 2100. So in spite of the steps that would be taken, it would be a herculean task to prevent this gigantic extinction of languages around the world. A project undertaken by Google might however help in preserving some endangered languages. The Endangered Languages project aims at documenting dying languages, with the help of Google technology like Google Maps, YouTube etc. This project aims at encouraging people, who speak endangered languages to document the language. These people are expected to contribute their knowledge and research online and keep the content up-to-date. Google expects this mission to motivate more people to speak and bring these languages back to life. Internet is a phenomenon which is here to stay. So the use of Internet to preserve languages is incredible.
More efforts should be taken by the citizens and government to help this venture become a success. Although several project were planned, nothing worked out beyond the initial stages. However this project should be taken a little more seriously this time as this is one last opportunity to at least preserve the dying languages. Taking more pride in one’s culture and language is something that every individual has to inculcate in oneself. Languages are the bond between a person and his society and the death of a language is equivalent to the death of the society.