A language is a universal way for a community to communicate with each other. It is developed in due course of time and changes due to certain popular trends. The development of language explains why it is important for communication.
To understand the importance of language, we need to understand what it is first. We need to find what comprises a language and how it evolves as a unique medium of communication among a particular community or a population.
If you observe a newborn, it does not know a language but learns to communicate with the family members. The toddler uses the basic method of communicating during the early years. It is discrete sign language. In fact, the only emotion it shows is crying. They start laughing and smiling months later.
Hence, there is a need for communication to express our emotions, feelings, thoughts, ideas, etc. We, thus, make unique sounds and use a dialect that another person understands while communicating. It is called a language. A language may or may not have a set of alphabets but will surely have a dialect.
You will be surprised to know that there are over 7100 languages spoken in the world. How did those languages evolve and differ from each other? A unique language is developed based on traditions, culture, trends, and practices. In fact, the same language is spoken in a different way. This is how a native language evolves and varies from another one even if the communities live closer.
We can easily jot down the importance of languages in the following points.
A language is the easiest way to communicate with others in a community. Sign languages take more time to communicate and they are not clear all the time. Hence, uttering certain sounds that have particular meaning constitutes a proper method of communicating with others. This is why a language is important.
As mentioned earlier, there are over 7100 languages spoken across the world. It proves that even if we belong to the same species, we are so different from each other. It also proves that we are united through languages irrespective of our differences.
A culture can be defined as the collection of shifting beliefs, trends, practices and traditions. Language thus becomes a vital part of a culture. It is how people transform their beliefs and share their ideas.
Languages can be weaponised as they can be used to spread one language or eradicate others. For example, the Canadian Government had once mandated English to be learnt as the prime communication language. If anyone was found practising other languages, they were punished. This step caused the eradication of many native languages.
The differences in languages also reflect the differences in cultures and traditions. The effect of other languages can also be seen when a common language is used by people from different communities.
We can clearly understand the importance of language from these points. Let us find out what native languages are and why it is necessary to preserve them.
A language that a person learns and acquires from his/her surroundings during childhood from the people around him/her is called a native language. It is the language spoken by the native people. It can also be considered as the first language or the mother tongue we learn first. If a person learns and uses two languages at the same time, he is called a linguist. If he knows how to speak more than two languages, he is called a multilinguist.
Why should we preserve languages? What is the benefit of doing so? Languages do go extinct like species in an ecosystem. It is a natural process. Isn’t it better to have one single language and remove the barrier to communication?
Languages, as mentioned earlier, are directly linked to the culture of a community. Losing a language has a direct effect on cultural and traditional practices. It is important to preserve indigenous languages to preserve the different forms of such valuable cultures across the world.
Imposing a language to eradicate the use of indigenous languages has ill effects on society. It is the diversity in the population that makes us different and sustainable. Languages define who we are and it has a direct impact on the personality of an individual. Hence, someone losing his native language will make him a whole new person. We will certainly lose the old one.
Importance of Native Languages
There are various organisations that work to identify endangered languages and define ideas to preserve them. These organisations gather information on such languages. They design educational material to keep the communities aware of their languages. They also cater to raising the awareness of the importance of native languages to the common people.
The changes in the economical conditions of a community also lead to the slow eradication of native languages. People migrate from one place to another in search of a better life. They settle down and the generations start assimilating their native language with the local one. It results in the formation of a new language or the eradication of the old one.
According to the United Nations, there are more than 6000 languages that fall on that endangered list. In India, we have over 600 languages on the verge of extinction. To increase awareness regarding native languages, International Mother Language Day has been celebrated on the 21st day of February since 1999. This is how languages are important and why it is necessary to preserve them.