When we think of preserving language, we think of the last speakers of the language. But the dynamics of language loss happens in every country, all of the time.
For example, tens of thousands of people speak Somali in Minnesota, and millions more in Somali and other diaspora communities. Somali will not die any time soon.
Yet we can see that Somali is dying in Minnesota. Tens of thousands will become thousands, which will become hundreds, in just a few generations.
The same dynamics that are choking off Somali are killing Lakota and Navajo. People do not speak them in their daily business outside the house. Their use is largely confined to the kitchen table. Ironically, the mayor of Mogadishu recently declared that foreign languages are “killing” Somali culture and must be expunged from signage. Too bad he…
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