How to Stop Language Extinction

Start a nuclear war. Not one that destroys all life on Earth–just something big enough to wipe out modern industrialized civilization. Make sure to obliterate the media technologies that make it possible for people separated in time and space to communicate. Also wipe out the transportation networks that enable a single dominant group to travel quickly around the world, dragging its language behind it like a virus. Once people get back to living off the land, knowing only their kin and immediate neighbors, and seeing even a trip a few miles down the river as an arduous and risky trek, linguistic diversity will bloom. Every island, valley, and hilltop will develop its own dialect, and within a few short generations those dialects will diverge into fully-fledged mutually-unintelligible languages. It will be a gold mine of research opportunities for linguists. Except there won’t be any linguists left.

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One Response to How to Stop Language Extinction

  1. sesquiotic says:

    Then we would get to reinvent linguistics all over. What fun!

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