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Just like with plants and animals, language and culture can as well undergo extinction once the relevant factors come into play. There are quite a number of languages and cultures that have today become death and still facing high chances of extinction. Some of the commonly known languages which have undergone death and a possible extinction include Latin, Oreqon and old English. In this paper, we shall give a concise discussion of at least two languages which have undergone a possible extinction. The two languages being discussed here are Latin and Oreqon. There is an extensive analysis of their historical developments, their extinction or methods of destruction and what has come to pass since their demise.
The extinction of any given language will definitely result in the death of a culture. This is so because the language is what determines the developments of the culture and the societal performances. Currently, there are very many languages which used to be spoken by different individuals from the past ages which have become extinct and gone into complete oblivion. However, someone might say that some of the words and proverbs from these languages are still being used today; it will be true to agree that there are no groups of people speaking the languages today, meaning that the culture died, thus the non-existence of the very language. The language speakers will be the very individuals who will define a given culture whatsoever. Without the speakers of such language, it is very true that the very culture does not exist. There are a number of historical developments with some of the extinct languages (Brenzinger 24). Also, it is very true that there are a number of factors that might lead to the destruction of a given language, or even a given mode of destruction that might result to the demise of a given language. This paper will look at two major Moribund Languages which have become extinct by looking at their history and going ahead to discuss their method of destruction which must have led to their extinction.
The History of Latin and Oreqon
In the field of linguistics, the extinction of a language happens when the process has been able to develop until a point where it ends up affecting the communities who speak the very language thus resulting in loss of language competence. This decreased the proficiency in the language and eventually resulting in the death or loss of such a native language. This as well results in the loss of people who used to be native speakers of the given language. Language death is something that will affect some of the aspects of the language such as the idiom, thus distorting the dialects of the given language (Brenzinger 35). This means that language death is something that should never be confused with the attribution of a language whereby an individual losses proficiency with the given language. Good examples of two major languages, which have gone through this moribund process, include Latin and Oreqon.
It is currently well known that the Oreqon language used to be a former language that was spoken by majority of the individuals in Northern Tungusic. Today, these languages have become dead so that it is not currently written or spoken as it used to be spoken many years ago. This language used to be very similar with the current Evenki language, and hence historians have been forced to imagine and conclude that the speakers and individuals from the two languages could most likely communicate freely at a seventy percent chance. Presently, the Oreqon language is no longer written and hence majority of the people from this language are currently fluent in writing and speaking in Chinese. In addition, the people have also been noted to speak fluent Daur language (Broderick & Johan 28). Another historical fact about this language is that the Oreqon speakers and the ethnic group were found in the Northeast parts of China. Going by historians, the name Oreqon was used to mean individual using the reindeer. The ancestry of the Oreqons is believed to have been originally living in the wider areas in the southern parts of the Xing’an Mountains or in the northern parts of Heilongjiang.
The group is also believed to have once been forming part of the Shiwei people. Later in the seventeenth century, the Russians invaded the area after which majority of the Oreqon speakers decided to move farther into the areas near the Xing’an Lesser and Xing’an Greater mountains. This group was later consumed by the Chinese although they still have specific linage of identifying their historical foundations and ancestry. Currently, this tribe is known to form one of the major 56 known ethnic groups and tribes, which are recognized or known by the People’s Republic of China (Brenzinger 67). From the latest census the year 2000, it was revealed that over 44 per cent of the tribe has been living in Mongolia. Another important feature with the remaining population of the Oreqons is that they are hunters and gatherers while they use animal fur or skins as part of their clothing and ritual performances. The government has also been giving pledges of bringing them to closer civilizations and providing them with appropriate living standards (Romaine & Nettle 60). There has been true facts that the language is as well dead since majority of the Oreqons in the country no longer speak the language and thus use Chinese as a mode of communication amongst themselves. There have also been suggestions that their culture has also died with more legislations being put in place towards safeguarding wildlife. Majority of the Oreqons cannot be traced due to intermarriages with other tribes within the country with others having migrated into different parts of the Asian continent.
From the available sources, the Oreqon’s culture used to be of exogamous practice under which marriages would only be allowed among members from specific clans with the tribe. Their traditional housing or dwelling units used to be known as sierranju, which used to be covered with barks of birch during the summer (Broderick & Johan 51). The dwellings structures used to have conical-shape forms and the walls were made of sticks of considerable lengths and used to be approximately about five to six meters in terms of diameter and about five meters when it comes to height. Rituals practices used to be practiced and passed from one age-set to the other. However, with the Russian invasion, the culture started to die slowly by slowly as more and more individuals continued to get scattered in different parts of the region. Presently, very few people live in accordance with the culture with no people who write the language after its continued consumption by the Chinese language. This has also seen their religious practices loosing meaning with no one practicing them currently.
Latin is the other language, which has great fame for having gone into complete oblivion. The historical developments in the past centuries came about with Language, which has an Italian decent and great connection with the ancient Roman Empire. Latin used to be an Italic language, which was originally used in a place known as Latium and in the ancient Roman Empire. Having being a very strong empire, the conquest of the Romans saw the use of the language spreading adversely into very many countries that surrounded the Mediterranean sea and deeper into other European countries (Romaine & Nettle 67). Currently, historians have been able to point out that all the so-called Romantic Languages like French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Catalan and Corsican have all developed from the Latin descent. In addition, it very true that majority of the European languages have greatly borrowed a lot from the Latin language. Latin also used to be an internationally acceptable language in scientific applications until later in the seventeenth century when it was replaced by the present vernaculars such as English.
The Latin language can be developed into a number of historical phases which started from the old or the archaic Latin which was spoken somewhere in Roman Empire and had many Greek endings with it. This developed into the Classical Latin, which came because of poetry, and literature that had been developed by man. This is the phase, which played a great role in the academic field. Later, the next phase is the Vulgar Latin, which was the common people’s language. This kind of language was not being encouraged in the learning structures and later it ended up developing into the Romance languages (Broderick & Johan 68). Later, the Medieval Latin, or written Latin, developed. This language was mainly not spoken but was used by the elites as a written language. Another important historical development with this language is its renaissance. The renaissance of Medieval Latin is known to have briefly led to the reinforcement of the language’s position towards becoming one of the commonly spoken languages. This had been done by ensuring the Humanists behind the renaissance process adopted it. Often, groups and members within the clergy led this but very soon; they became extremely shocked upon the immediate realization that the accelerated destruction and dismantling of the language was quite alarming. Very soon, the classical world ended up loosing its Latin literature that had taken thousands of years to develop. They decided to come up with measures towards the preservation of the language as much as they could. However, despite all their struggles, the language would remain as part of the Roman elites and the clergy who have been using it since then (Romaine & Nettle 67). The Romance languages were taking center-stage in the whole set-up with more and more people feeling comfortable with them. Later, this language becomes a very important tool of communication during the later days in the Roman Empire. Currently, this language is mainly used in Rome under the Catholic Church doctrines and not at all spoken by specific groups. This means that the language is an official standard that is commonly applied in the Vatican.
Method of Destruction and Extinction
The thing that has to be noted here is that different languages will undergo extinction, but the fact that remains is that such extinction will take a common or related process of destruction. This has been the same case with Latin, Old English and Oreqon. Going by the process of language destruction towards its overall extinction, it is important for us to note that, normally, the global patterns of adoption and development will play a very great role towards the loss or demise of a given language (Crystal 49). What happens is that one language will undergo sudden death so that another language will occupy the hiatus left by that specific language. This is the same thing that must have happened to the above languages and thus resulting in the death of the culture. For instance, the Oreqon language and culture was consumed by Chinese culture and language while the Romance languages consumed the Latin language and the culture as well (Romaine & Nettle 70).
Any kind of language extinction tends to come about when the given language has been able to evolve and eventually slowly by slowly developing into a brand new language. In addition, a family of languages might end up developing from one given language. During the process, different speakers of the languages ends up developing, different approaches which eventually results in different patterns of the language thus bringing divisions. This is what happened with Latin during the medieval phase (Harrison 20). Due to this kind of difference, it has ended up seeing the language being applied only for scientific purposes and with sacred teachings. What has happened as a result is that today we cannot have original or natives who can be able to speak these two languages and be able to write in it while translating what has been written into spoken words. Due to such developments, the processes of destruction have resulted due to lesser people speaking the language (Crystal 64). It is something necessary to note here that our two languages, which are being discussed here, have undergone language death, but because we still have groups of few individuals using Latin and Oreqon, we shall be in a position of saying that the languages have not really been extinct but have died in terms of their usage and applications.
According to historians and experts, the process under which a given language will undergo extinction will be closely related with the same process through which plants and animals undergo extinction. For instance, when people divert their use of a given language to another in whole, it happens that many people will stop using the very language and thus there will be a possible death of the language (Harrison 37). This same method led to the death of Latin. In addition, we can have cases of most individuals migrating and mixing with other individuals such that the original group has been effectively disoriented. Once that has happened, the end result is that different individuals would be consumed by the stronger language thus posing a possible death to the language, and that is the same process which must have led to the death of the Oreqon language in China. The Chinese language following the invasion by the Russians consumed the native people and speakers of this language.
From this kind of understanding, it shall be seen that a given language can undergo slow death and an eventual extinction depending on the interactive structures that come to play. For instance, some of the possible processes and methods, which have been able to result in the death of languages, are through the destruction of habitats and the livelihoods or consumption by a stronger language or culture (Harrison 63). Other causes or forces which hastened the death of Latin and Oreqon was the process of consumerism and acquisition of the western values. This increased pressures towards assimilation and adoption of dominant cultures. More often than not, we have to note that the death of a given language comes about as the culminating point towards language shift thus bringing in more pressure that lead to the adoption of new languages by a given group of individuals. The eventual outcome once that has happened is that there will be overall changes in human virtues and values, loss and change of ritual practices, economic change and distorted political life (Crystal 75). This might result due to interactions from trade, processes of intermarriage, migrations, conversions due to religious means, and during military conquests.
After the demise of the two languages, it will be noted that a number of issues and elements have come to pass. To begin with, after the demise of the Latin language, there is a great deal of culture that was lost with the currently practiced culture noted within the Catholic Church. Also, after the death of this language, there was a greater change which saw the language stop being used and applied in scientific studies. However, it is only in the description and naming of living things that the language is currently used. Another important thing that should be mentioned is that the death of the language led to the development of the current Romance languages which are spoken in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea. There is also a great deal of Latin which has been borrowed and applied in majority of the currently spoken languages such as modern English (Harrison 58).
On the other hand, the death of the Oreqon language presents a peculiar example on how a language can very easily become extinct. This was due to invasion thus leading to scattering of specific groups. After the dispersal, there was the instant consumption of the language speakers by the Chinese speakers thus bringing the language closer to extinction. After that happening, there have been lesser and lesser individuals speaking in the language with none of them being able to write and read the language (Harrison 90). Due to this, the language has never been developed into writing thus making it a threatened, or an almost dead language. Although there are a number of Oreqon individuals in China and recognized by the Republic, the language itself has almost died as well as the culture and practice of the indigenous or native people (Crystal 99). Naturally, it would be very hard for anyone to be able to give percentage estimates of all what might have taken place after the demise of these two languages. Also, it is well known that we cannot carry out fossil analysis in establishing the age and developments of a language, and hence it will be agreed that there has been a great deal of ideas and knowledge which must have gone to waste after the loss of the two languages.
From the above discussion, we have been able to note that a language, just like animal and plant species, can very easily undergo extinction. This will happen due to a number of factors and methods as we have been able to outline above. One important thing that has to be agreed upon is that, once a given language has undergone a sudden death or extinction, it is very true that same native people and speakers of the language will end up being consumed so that no one will be left being able to speak the language. Once a given language has died, one of the first things to happen is that a given culture is lost immediately. This has been the exact case with Latin and Oreqon cultures which are scantly practiced. Another important element is that the phenomenon under which a given language will undergo death and a probable extinction will be strikingly similar (Brenzinger 102). This means that any threatened language can very easily undergo death if some of the causal factors and methods come into play at the right time. Some of the modern cultures which have been noted today and abetted by current technological innovations have been encroaching at a very high rate thus placing more cultures and languages closer to their death beds.
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Broderick, George. & Johan, Carl M. Language Death in the isle of man: an investigation into the history. New York: Longman, 1999.
Bussman, Hadumod. & Trauth, Gregory. Routledge dictionary of language and linguistics. New York: Routledge, 1998.
Crystal, David. Language Death. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2002.
Harrison, David K. When Languages die: the extinction of the world’s languages. New York: Penguin Books, 2007.
Romaine, Suzanne. & Nettle, Daniel. Vanishing Voices: the extinction of the world’s languages. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2000.