Language Loss

Topics: Indigenous peoples, Indigenous Australians, First Nations Pages: 12 (4065 words) Published: November 27, 2012
As we increasingly realize that our own self-destruction is inevitable in the destruction of the planet, the insular notion of Western modernity as the height of human progress is \ finally being questioned. However, the resultant paradox is that although we realize the resultant flaws of depending on one form of progress, the only alternatives that we could turn to are dying off of the face of the earth. Thus the global trend of language loss is an issue incredibly worthy of long overdue attention; it may in fact be our last meaningful alternative to rescue the plight of humanity’s survival. As a repository of knowledge, an expression of culture, and a symbolic embodiment of a way of life, the loss of a language speaks for itself. Although some Aboriginal languages are on the brink of extinction in Canada, regrettably, not many people are listening to the last cries of the voices that are quickly vanishing. I will explore the reasons why this is the case. Firstly I will delve into the roots of language, as a vehicle by which the essence of each particular culture comes into coherence in the material world and how its culture’s level of conceit that sustains its insularity. The history of Western culture, as a product of European colonialism and industrial capitalism, clearly exemplifies that its essence and more importantly its arrogance, is fundamentally at odds with a harmonious relationship with the natural world, currently leading to its own detriment. With this colonial mentality in mind, a second aspect I will explore is the stark alternative to this one way of thinking that is exemplified the in the culture of the Squamish people of Vancouver. Thus thirdly, the settlement, industrialization, and current urbanization transforming Vancouver, is arguably augmenting the divide between both ways of being, perpetuating the self-destruction of all people who are at the mercy of the dominant culture’s conceit. Thus I will argue that in contrast to Vancouver’s Aboriginal people’s way of life, the current level of arrogance sustaining the dependence on Western modernity will ultimately, inevitably be the demise of humanity. It is undeniable that language, like all things that humanity has created, is ultimately an invention of natural world. As a watershed of imagination, language tries to make sense of the world and may be understood as the symbolization of the human thought in trying to grapple with the nature of existence. Although these symbols were created in order to mediate and make sense of humanity’s place in the universe, since their creation they have transformed and pervaded human cognition to such an extreme extent as to actually replace inexplicable nature of existence with a false sense of ‘rational’ reality. Symbols, now meaning speech, are a cultural phenomenon fundamental to encompassing what define civilization (Zerzan Language: 237). As much as symbols in any culture try to grapple with their reality in a complex scientific, or rational sense, due to their inherent detachment from the natural world and intrinsic reductionist nature, all attempts to find the answers of the universe, to fit harmoniously with mother earth will ultimately be at odds with what is in fact, incomprehensible. The seemingly rational is ultimately irrational. The layers of complexity now sustaining the process of symbolization account for an ongoing need to label and thus control what ultimately could never be comprehensively defined. (SOURCE). An important element in this process of symbolization is the man-made conception of time. Time is one the earliest layers of symbolization’s complexity that enhanced a constructed nature of reality. John Zerzan notes that time’s fruition accounts for the need to define a sense of ‘progress’ that would dominate man’s sense of history, further alienating him away from the natural world. In a cycle of their own creation and perpetuation, the purpose of civilization has therefore, only been to...
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