Have you ever wondered which languages will be spoken in 2,000 years?
This question came to my mind while watching the movie “Time Machine”. The main character hits his head by accident and faints and in consequence he travels through millions of years to the future. When he finally wakes up, he realizes that the world is a completely different place and that what’s left of the American culture are books that become dust when you touch them and some ruins of what used to be a library, therefore, those are the only proof to show how humans used to communicate in English. After this I asked myself a new question: how can we be sure that English or Spanish will be spoken in the future?
Nowadays thousands of languages and dialects have disappeared and some of the few that are still spoken have no more than 100 native speakers. The most affected languages were of course the indigenous. In Mexico, there are about one and a half million of people that speak Nahuatl, one of the most ancient languages of the country and one of the few that has influenced many languages all over the world. The word “chocolate” for example, was created by this language and its usage was extended beyond the American continent.
However, even Spanish has been modified and it has acquired some English words as part of the lexicon, for example: sandwich, cool, golf, club, etc. These words are also known as Anglicisms. There some other words like “football” that also have a Spanish translation -futbol- but in comparison with the ones that are officially part of the lexicon, they are not so many.
Some of the reasons of why we are losing these languages are:
– Wars: Especially for the majority of indigenous languages.
– Diseases: Many people migrate to other countries to avoid being infected.
– Marriage: Some families teach their children how to speak both languages (mother’s and father’s native language), but in general they speak the most influential one.
– Economic and cultural pressure: bilingual people are highly ranked when it comes to getting a good job.
Today many projects are being developed in order to save and keep track of the endangered languages. Linguistics experts have created new dictionaries, studied old documents and even recorded as many sounds as they can to register all the information.
What are we going to do then to keep our languages alive? Thanks to globalization, millions of people learn English nowadays and the new emergent economies such as China have created the tendency of studying Mandarin to communicate with its inhabitants and facilitating the establishment of new business deals.
Migration rate around the world is increasing but we can make sure that our future generations learn how to speak and write our languages. Regarding the subject of documenting our language, many books are physically published along with their online version. The second one has become more popular due to its easy and cheap approach and we will struggle to maintain the book reading habit as part of any culture. We can also keep alive the essence of our languages by improving our grammar level and vocabulary, this way we will be able to transmit a pure lexicon without many modifications applied to it.
There are obviously languages that are more popular than others, but the world can change from one day to another and the same can happen to the way we communicate. We must remember that English is also being modified constantly.
Do you think it will be the same in 100 years? Do you think Spanish will be spoken in the future?