Each language represents a specific perception of reality. It is the way in which the ideas, traditions, customs, stories and emotions of a community materialize, so conserving them is of vital importance to preserve the identity of their individuals, according to the United Nations Organization.
But today, candRCA of 3,000 languages are in danger of extinction internationally.
An example is the Yagán language, originally from a nomadic tribe of Patagonia, to the extreme south of Chile and Argentinto, the che has only one speaker; or the case of Mexico, where more than sixty-four different languages are at risk of death.
Although the situation threatens languages across the globe, the two continents that are most at risk of losing languages, considering their total indigenous languages, are Europe and America.
The numbers are alarming: more than twenty European languages are about to disappear; and countries with greater linguistic diversity such as Mexico show the death of their native languages closer and closer, where 70% of them are about to perish.
Why do tongues die?
Languages die because the conditions in which communities live are not favorable to carry out cultural prosperity according to linguists and activists such as the Mexican Yásnaya Elena Aguilar or the Swedish Sofia Jannok. Jannok, in a speech at Tedx Talks, explains the constant attacks on communities:
That's the way things are for my people, and for all the indigenous people around the world. Some large companies run by people whose goal is money invade our homes, force us to move or just get rid of us.
CIt should be noted that many of the indigenous groups on the planet denounce the dispossession of their property and violation of their human rights. In Mexico, the environmentalist Rarámuri Julián Carrillo was murdered, and the case of the murder of Berta Cáceres, a Lenca indigenous who opposed the construction of a hydroelectric project in Honduras, went around the world. These cases, which often remain unpunished, continue to occur: on February 24, 2020, an indigenous Brörán activist was killed by an armed group in Costa Rica. Activists deplore the lack of reaction from governments.
Yásnaya Aguilar, the Mexican linguist, added to the Chamber of Deputies of her country that:
Indigenous languages do not die, the Mexican state kills them.
In April 2019, Yásnaya wrote his speech in Spanish for Global Voices, which includes “reflections on the disappearance of indigenous languages and their close connection with the loss of territory.”
Likewise, the NGO Global Witness and several international activists such as the indigenous Sami Eva M. Fjellheim point out that agribusiness and mining are the main actions linked to the murder of indigenous environmental leaders in the world. Latin America tops the list of attacks. Fjellheim told Pikara magazine that:
In the last ten or fifteen years the pressure has increased a lot in the territorial and even more interest in exploiting energy resources, we have realized that we have no real right to protect us.
On the other hand, there are also those who affirm that a relevant part of the problem is the discrimination that indigenous peoples face.
Peruvian Quechua-speaking writer Pablo Landeo indicated at the Lima International Book Fair in 2017 that:
The social structures determine the condition of the original languages and there is everything related to discrimination and shame, to the idea of associating them as linked to the past and to the delay.
Discrimination also encompasses the little diffusion and visibility that is given to native languages. In many cases like Mexico, very little cultural budget is allocated to indigenous literature and arts projects; and in countries like Sweden, priority is given to teaching English, Finnish or German as a second language over native languages.
Although the Nordic regions such as Sweden, Norway and Finland are thousands of kilometers away from countries such as Mexico or Peru, it seems that they are closely linked: the cultural segregation of their indigenous languages and the destruction of identity and historical memory of their native peoples.
At the end of the International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019, the United Nations has declared an International Decade of Indigenous Languages, which will begin in 2022, in order to promote and revitalize languages.
#Today, following the conclusion of # IYIL2019, #UNGA adopted the resolution on the rights of #IndigenousPeoples Https://t.co/6cQ1S5vWah which includes, inter alia, proclamation of 2022-2032 as International Decade of #IndigenousLanguages The work continues! #WeAreIndigenous pic.twitter.com/0sid5PAH3a
– UNPFII (@ UN4Indigenous) December 18, 2019
Today, after concluding # IYIL2019, the #AGNU adopted a resolution on the rights of the #Indigenous Peoples, which includes, among others, the proclamation of the International Decade of the #Indigenous Languages for 2022-2032. We keep going! # We are Indigenous