Written by Dyami Millarson
The reasons for the decline and loss of local languages around the globe are complex. It is extremely hard to stop an individual or community from speaking the local language that the individual’s or community’s ancestors transmitted. However, the rapid advancements of compulsory education, mass communication and improved infrastructure and transportation have doubtlessly contributed to creating a new psychological environment where speakers of local languages have experienced more discouragement to speak and transmit their local language than in all of human history prior. The incentives to give up one’s local language and identity have become ever sweeter; the entire world, even the remotest corners of the world, have become exposed to these incentives to some extent. The world has evolved significantly but human psychology has not yet adapted in formerly isolated parts of the globe that used to be home to speakers of local languages, and this has taken its psychological toll on the speakers of local languages, which has resulted in the loss of faith among speakers of local languages in their own local identity. Speakers of local languages feel a very human desire to adapt to the ‘greater human group’ to which they now belong since the end of the local isolation that existed priorly. We see among speakers of local languages the common belief that their ancestral identity is somehow inferior and that the loss of their local language would somehow not matter at all. This reflects the true level of despair that is found among local communities in response to the relatively new developments in human history such as compulsory education, mass communication and improved infrastructure and transportation available to all.
There is a historical record of the use of local languages being banned or discouraged in compulsory education systems, which are intended to give people the preparation that they need for getting employed in companies in the modern era. The prohibition or discouragement should in itself not have the power to bring about the fall and death of any vibrant local language, but it is the wider and broader change in the psychological environment that truly affects the speakers of local languages. If the speakers themselves did not lose the will to speak their ancestral language, there is little that such a prohibition or discouragement could really do, because the human will is extremely hard to break once it feels morally justified to pursue the goal of transmitting what has been transmitted by the ancestors before. However, the overwhelming complexity of societal changes have drowned speakers of local languages and exposed them to a world that they were ill-prepared for. But as the global changes are becoming better understood by the speakers of local languages, the resolve to restore the local identities is becoming stronger. Humans are extremely adaptable, and the modern era requires modern answers. While the speakers of local languages lost hope before, they can regain that hope. The new developments, which speakers of local languages and their descendants are now starting to realise, offer ample opportunities for them to provide for an improved transmission of their ancestral languages. There is a local demand for adaptation to the modern era, and this is exactly what our charitable initiative seeks to provide for local people around the world who wish to cooperate with us in order to ensure the transmission of their local language and culture for future generations.
The psychological mission of our initiative is to give hope to locals around the world, and to restore their will to transmit their local language. It is essential that these speakers be aware of their legal rights conferred upon them by the international and national laws, and that they be aware of the fact that really no one can stop them if they are determined to speak their own local language. I think it is reasonable to teach local communities that no one can take your identity from you if you do not want to lose your identity. Our own blog proves that in the age of the internet no one can stop us from using local languages, and we believe that the digital age, where digital technologies have become omnipresent, has even the potential to immortalise these languages. Modern technologies offer possibilities to preserve these languages better than before. We feel morally compelled to seize all the opportunities available to us in the digital age to transmit the knowledge of local languages. Digital technologies do not only make it easier for locals to learn their own ancestral languages, but these technologies also make the languages available to a much wider audience of modern people. With the aid of improved technologies, local languages can reach more people than ever before and their appeal can become greater than ever before. If nothing is available online about any particular local language, it is as though it has never existed, and therefore it is vitally important that each and every local language build up its online second life. All the information stored online about any particular local language is the back-up that is required to ensure potential transmission in the modern era. Although a local language may not be transmitted immediately, it can wait indefinitely online to be awakened again. When the essence of a language has been stored online, its ghost has been transferred and such a language ghost can be activated or awakened anytime anyone calls upon them, for the information about their existence will be available 24/7. To finish this article, I would like to point out how much any local language means to the locals. When we had brought the speakers of Eilauners, the language of Schiermonnikoog to tears by learning to speak their language in 2018, they confessed to us that they had not known until then that their language meant so much to them.