Today, as globalisation and technology rapidly increase along with industrialisation and environmental degradation, many environmentalists are calling to attention the alarming rate at which ecosystems, forests, clean water and even whole species are becoming extinct. Unfortunately, another type of extinction is taking place on a similar level with less visible, but equally important consequences. While rare species of animals are becoming extinct due to overconsumption and globalisation, many of the world?s languages are themselves becoming extinct, or already have. According to linguist Michael Krauss, in the present day approximately 20%-50% of the world?s languages are ?beyond endangerment? (Skutnabb-Kangass 188), meaning that they are not being passed down to children and therefore will become obsolete in the near future.
[...] Canada should strive to raise the level of aboriginal minority languages through official recognition and cultural tolerance so that the disparity between Native linguistic groups and the majority language population begins to shorten. Only through the unselfish restructuring of socio-political goals on the part of the government, and self initiated language preservation programs on the part of native groups will the extinction of Aboriginal languages in Canada be averted. After all, North American indigenous languages are lost here, there is no other reservoir of speakers elsewhere to draw on to renew that resource” (Herriman 208). [...]
[...] Due to past discrimination and assimilationist policies that continue today, the subject of minority languages in Canada tends to focus on French-English relations and immigrant minority language maintenance with few and hard to find facts about First Nations linguistic vitality. This may be due to the shame that Aboriginal minority languages are disappearing at such an alarming pace. According to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages, before European contact with Natives in North America, there were approximately 450 individual languages thriving in 11 language groups in what is now present day Canada. [...]
[...] Measures of Mother Tongue Vitality for Non-Official Languages in Canada. Ottawa: Policy and Research Directorate, Multiculturalism Sector, Multiculturalism and Citizenship Canada Herriman, Michael, and Barbara Burnaby, Eds. Language Policies in English Dominant Countries. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd Kalantzis, Mary, Bill Cope and Diana Slade. Minority Language and Dominant Culture: Issues of Education, Assessment and Social Equity. Bristol: Falmer Press McLuhan, T.C. Touch the Earth A Self-Portrait of Indian Existence. New York: Pocket Books 1971 168-169 May, Stephen. “Uncommon Languages: The Challenges and Possibilities of Minority Language Rights.” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development Vol No 2000: 366-385. [...]
[...] This shows that language can be used as a marker of distinction between different sociolinguistic groups so that the “social and political circumstances of these who speak a particular language will have a significant impact on the subsequent symbolic and communicative status attached to that language” (May 374). Under this framework, due to the rapid death of Native languages in Canada it could be deduced that there is also a significant loss of Native cultural identity as well. Why then, would there be a threat of cultural loss in Canada, with such popular support for multiculturalism policies? In order to shed light on the subject, pluralist and multiculturalists views as well as their underlying motives must be examined. [...]
[...] Through examining the contextual framework and theoretical implications of linguistic minority rights in Canada, the survivability of Native languages in the shadow of an English dominant political, social and economic structure looks grim. Not only are aboriginal languages already on the verge of becoming extinct, their submissive status in Canadian society makes for an environment in which minority language vitality is jeopardized. Due to Canada's hidden agenda of assimilation for the purpose of modern nation-state congruence, masked in its linguistic and multicultural policies, aboriginal languages are set up as a binary opposition to the majority language, and are at risk of being swallowed up by English dominance. [...]
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