Strength for Today and Bright Hope for Tomorrow

Volume 13:6 June 2013
ISSN 1930-2940

Managing Editor: M. S. Thirumalai, Ph.D.
Editors: B. Mallikarjun, Ph.D.
         Sam Mohanlal, Ph.D.
         B. A. Sharada, Ph.D.
         A. R. Fatihi, Ph.D.
         Lakhan Gusain, Ph.D.
         Jennifer Marie Bayer, Ph.D.
         S. M. Ravichandran, Ph.D.
         G. Baskaran, Ph.D.
         L. Ramamoorthy, Ph.D.
Assistant Managing Editor: Swarna Thirumalai, M.A.


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The Phenomena of Languages: Death vs. Revival

Talal Musaed Alghizzi (Ph.D. Candidate at University College Cork, Ireland)

There is no such thing as an ugly language. Today I hear every language as if it were the only one, and when I hear of one that is dying, it overwhelms me as though it were the death of the earth. Elias Canetti


Language has always been considered the hallmark of humanity and the prime reason for mankind’s dominance. Its characteristics and the processes of its acquisition are the kinds of attributes - perhaps the most important ones - that distinguish humans from all the other species. For some Africans, a newly born infant is a "kintu", a "thing" but not yet a "muntu", a "person" since only when children start learning the language are they regarded as being human (Fromkin, Rodman, and Hyams, 2007, p. 3). However, there are “700” other reasons that point to the significance of human languages. The most significant are the personal enhancement and the enjoyment that people have from studying and learning them (UK Subject Centre for Languages, as cited in Gallagher-Brett, 2005, p. 2). For linguists, analysing languages in literature (i.e., “poetry, ritual speech, and word structure”) is important because such languages in context are the best records for the “nature of human cognition” as well as the “collective intellectual achievements of…culture(s), offering unique perspectives on the human condition(s)” (Fromkin, et al., 2007, p. 486).

Linguistic analyses have focused on different areas, one of which is language change. The study of language change is often termed “historical linguistics” and it has increasingly spread “over a wide range of areas”, which consequently has produced a desultory and a contradictory literature. In other words, scholars, sociolinguists and psycholinguists, for example, have examined language changes from an angle suitable only for their own fields but not for those of others. In the last twenty-eight or so years, scholars have changed their perspectives towards the types of issues which they have to address when documenting any language change. Traditionally, they were “concerned with reconstructing the earliest possible stages”, and describing phonetic changes, that is sounds. Little else, such as changes in syntax, semantics, pidgins, and creoles, dead/dying languages, or even “sociolinguistic and psycholinguistics factors which underlie many alternations” was of interest to them (Aitchison, 1994, p. ix). Nowadays, however, these previously ignored topics have become the focus of many analyses.

This is only the beginning part of the article. PLEASE CLICK HERE TO READ THE ARTICLE IN PRINTER-FRIENDLY VERSION.

Talal Musaed Alghizzi
(Ph.D. Candidate at University College Cork, Ireland)
Al Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University (IMSIU)
College of Languages and Translation
Saudi Arabia

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