Top 10 Language Stories of 2008

Randy Alexander strangeguitars at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jan 3 03:08:42 UTC 2009

On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 9:50 PM, Tom Zurinskas <truespel at> wrote:

> As I understand it, languages die out from lack of use.

Ignorance is bliss, huh?  Languages die out for many different reasons.
 Manchu is dying out because all of the Manchu speakers were forced to learn
Mandarin after the fall of the Qing dynasty.  They were afraid to even say
that they were Manchu, because that would associate them with the dynasty.
 Many Manchus even changed their identification materials to say that they
were Han (the predominant ethnicity) instead of Manchu.

> Would you say that it's important to force educating folks into a language
> just to preserve it?

I don't think anyone's saying that.  Some people want to preserve their own
language because it's their native language, and they want to pass it on to
their descendants.  And their descendants want to learn it because it's part
of their heritage.

> That to me would be officiously arrogant.  Languages just cease to exist
> because of disuse.  Why worry about it?  Don't be a hateful namecaller
> either.

Isn't it being a hateful namecaller to call someone a hateful namecaller?

For more information on a dying language and attempts at its preservation,
see my blog, below.

Randy Alexander
Jilin City, China
My Manchu studies blog:

The American Dialect Society -

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