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Reviving Dead Languages – A Possibility in the Modern World?
Home Reference & Education Language
By: Charlene Lacandazo Email Article
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Linguists estimates that there are about 6,000 – 7,000 languages spoken today and there are hundreds of extinct or dead languages in the world, which is sometimes a big challenge for translators and interpreters in providing an accurate language solutions.

Many experts and linguists believe that within the next 100 years, half of the living languages today will go out of existence. While there will be various reasons why some of these languages that are alive today will die, there will also be a chance that dead languages will be revived and used again by people.

Endangered languages usually means that cultural aspects are being lost as well as the people. Hence, endangered languages should be considered to be still living, but currently facing danger and threats, and thus it is essential to save them, as early as possible.

So, how exactly can we revive a dead language? How does an alive language help to revive a dead language?

A dead language is defined as a language neither used nor spoken as a native language of a person. Today, there are many dead languages, however, some of them remain in use and studied for certain purposes, but their usage and information are very limited since there are only few or no native speakers of this language left.

The Latin language is still popular these days despite the fact this is considered as a dead language already; its significance is still recognized in different fields, however due to limited resources and support from any speakers, native or otherwise, learning this language is challenging and difficult.

There are dead languages today that are high valued by most people, another example of these is the Aramaic language. Aramaic was believed to be the first language of Jesus Christ; it has long been a dead language, almost since the times of Jesus, in fact. Experts believe that Aramaic was the dominant language in the region where Jesus lived, however, it still died out over time. Today, Aramaic is being introduced in schools, almost in desperation to revive its existence in the world.

Christians living in villages in Israel have been working to revive the Aramaic language by making it part of the curriculum in early education. In addition, in Sweden, an Aramaic-speaking television channel has been helping immigrants and locals who are interested in learning the language of Jesus.

Many languages have died with the last native speaker, and often leaving no written records. Unlike other dead species, a dead language can be revived; one such example is the Hebrew language. Through the ancient Hebrew religious text, the revival of the Hebrew language was much easier, and thus encourages many people to study and learn this language, until now.

It may be true that all languages are involved in changes and development; and thus, reviving a dead language is an effective way of retaining its significance and presenting its benefits to the people.

Charlene Lacandazo works for Rosetta Translation, a specialist translation agency for languages both dead and alive. Rosetta specialises in notarised and legalised translations, as well as pharmaceutical translations

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