Linguistic Diversity, Language Extinction

07---ecosphera-volumi-copertine-insieme1…But the tree of languages bears two more messages. The first, universal kinship, reminds that all languages are siblings, close or far relatives, like the peoples who speak them: subgroups with uncertain boundaries in a single, global species. The second, the value of history: every language – like every biological species – is the unique outcome of an improbable series of events. The “instructions” contained in DNA – a common metaphor – aren’t but a small, insufficient, inexhaustive part of a species, just like documents and instructions will never suffice for a language to get back to life. Once a language disappears, once a species gets extinct, something unique that enriched our planet is lost forever.

Serrelli E (2010). Diversità linguistica. In Eldredge N, Pievani T, eds., Ecosphera. Il Futuro della Terra Atlante vol. 1 (A-L), Torino: UTET-DeAgostini, pp. 148-154. Reprinted in Aggiornamento enciclopedico 2011, Torino: UTET-DeAgostini. ISBN 978-88-02-08383-4 []