Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lucia A language has to die in order to become immortal UPDATED

I'm really don't understand the kerfuffle around the potential death of the Maori language. At least it has been documented and thus saved from being lost forever. Anyone interested in learning Maori in the future will still have access to the stored written and audio data. If they are really worried that the audio could become unreadable and the paper be destroyed over time, then engraving the language on stone tablets would be the way to go.

No language lasts forever. Trying to make people learn a language they are not interested in learning and don't think is relevant, is a sure way to kill it off faster. And if Maori is left to die, then it can be preserved as is.  Because living languages mutate over time, and I doubt the purists would be happy with that, even if we were all speaking Maori as they might want.

Morte sola lingua immortalis fit*

Update: Found an opinion from a Maori academic that I agree with.

But David Rankin, a Maori academic and a leader of the Ngapuhi tribe, himself a fluent speaker, said it was a lost cause and Maori would not survive as a living language beyond a few more generations.

'Even those few of our children and grandchildren who are learning Maori still converse exclusively in English,' he said. 'That is the future, and we have to face up to it.'

He said Maori would still be used for ceremonial purposes as Latin is in the Catholic Church. 'More people still speak Latin than Maori now, and Latin is a dead language,' he said. 'I believe Maori will share the same fate.'

Rankin said it was wrong to believe that Maori culture would die without the language.

'Did Italian culture die when they lost Latin?' he asked. 'Did Russian culture die when they lost Old Slavonic? Maori culture is stronger than the language.'

He argued that the 100 million New Zealand dollars (75 million US dollars) the government spends annually on efforts to prop up the Maori tongue would be better invested in other areas of Maori development.

Related link: Yvonne Tahana: Read my lips - Maori language is dying ~ NZ Herald
Maori is a dying language, officials warn ~ Monsters and Critics
Translation found on: The only good language is a dead language ~ Vital Remnants

5 comment(s):

I.M Fletcher said...

I would have to totally agree. I am told that the only language that has been considered almost 'dead' and brought back to life successfully is Hebrew. I think that even in Jesus' time they spoke Arabic, even though they used Hebrew in the Temple.

Bearhunter said...

Aramaic, rather than Arabic.

I.M Fletcher said...

You're right :)
Thanks for the correction.

Lucia Maria said...

Funny, I just read what Fletch wrote as "Aramaic", because that was what I was expecting.

leftrightout said...

Which is why proof reading is so hard. The brain reads what it thinks is, or should be, there, not what the eye sees.

I once had a job that depended on 100% accuracy in printed material, we always prrofed in pairs, one reading aloud while the other followed the page. Amazing how many errors we picked up that way.

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