Should Languages Live or Die?

Writing in the New York Sun, John McWhorter, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, linguist and writer on race, ethnicity, and culture has a different take on dying languages. In his view, language death is an outcome not of homogeneity but of diversity. Languages, he notes, are the products of segregation, their development an accidental event, their disappearance natural. As a Lithuanian American who teaches in Ireland, I'm familiar with the problems of minor languages, which have throughout history battled homogeneous identity with heterogeneous difference. And yet… McWhorter's position makes sense too. What is clear however, is that globalization and the Internet are making English the dominant world language. This much is obvious today, but this is also a key part of what I am calling network culture. English itself is deforming in the process, as David Crystal observes in his book, English as a Global Language.

I have to get back to one more edit of Blue Monday prior to sending it off to the Barcelona-based publisher (who sells more books in Korea than in the United States…which is fine by me, invite me to Korea or anywhere in Asia for that matter!), but watch this space for a lot more on network culture in the next week as my conclusion for the Networked Publics book goes on-line.

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