English: an Endangered Language?

Topics: English language, Dialect, American English Pages: 3 (955 words) Published: March 5, 2013
What exactly does language represent? To many, language is a culmination of one’s culture, family, and personal identity. However, language can also be a barrier, a divider. America is, by nature, a country of immigrants. From this diversity and multitude of different backgrounds, cultures, and regions springs forth dialects and regional accents as varied and different as the people they come from. With all these variations, it becomes harder and harder to discern what linguists often refer to as “Standard American”, and as time progresses, these divergent dialects and accents seem to wear away at the foundations of the English language. The impact of these rogue Englishes can be clearly seen in the language today, and some linguists even feel that American English is threatened by these countless variations. I disagree with this view of Standard American English as an “endangered” language, as a language somehow at risk of disappearing. Language plays far too large a role in power and perception, so much so that Standard American English will never truly face extinction.

Immigrants are viewed by many as one of the fastest growing threats to Standard American English. Grammar prescriptivists and verbal hygienists often argue that the influx of non-native English speakers is one the biggest reasons for the “decline” of American English. Despite the increase of bilingual households, most experts don’t expect Spanish, or really any other language to ever pose a legitimate threat to English, simply because the mother language is usually lost by the second generation. Slang often arises from minority groups as well, another cause for concern to prescriptivists. Expressions like “we be going”, “dope”, and “nasty” all originated from street talk and culture. With this slang entering mainstream culture, many are trying to distance themselves as far away as possible.

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