Emma: How many are regular users of Sorbian?
Marka: 15,000 in
Emma: Do they use it in your church?
Marka: Of course. They don’t in
Emma: Who would care if Sorbian just, well, disappeared?
Marka: Linguists would care. Many young people in
Emma: So why would they care? The numbers are declining.
Marka: It’s not a question of numbers. It’s not just a question of mere words going extinct. There’s the culture, the customs, the events, the stories.
Emma: Ah. To lose the stories!
Language attrition leads to language death. Why is language death so important? Surely there are plenty of other languages in the world that are not threatened by extinction and do the job equally well?
If the Sorbs lose their language, it will be an intellectual disaster for their culture. In universal linguistic terms, perhaps a micro-disaster.
David Crystal uses the analogy of ecology, arguing that languages which are endangered should be at the top of environmental agenda.
He argues that a world which recognized English as the single global language which displaced all others would be the greatest intellectual disaster the world has ever known. Perhaps a macro-disaster.