Ghostlangs: Some constraints are not good idea

A language is a system of communication subject to some constraints. In English, we can’t independently decide to start using clicks, dispense with -ed for past tense, etc.

In a revived language, speakers will still be subject to these constraints and that is a good thing, communication can’t happen without an agreed upon system.

Some of these constraints are extra-linguistic.

The language has to be spoken by genetic descendants. Nonsense. The language is valuable regardless of who is speaking it. A language community is the coalition of the willing. Moreover, a language is open to anyone. It can’t be stolen and it can’t be warped to any single persons vision for it. Even the key linguists or language fans will have their influence swamped by the influence of all the other participants in a language revival or re-creation.

The speakers of a dead language have a right to let their language die and it should be respected. Nonsense.. Okay, then those people needn’t speak that language. Lets show some respect for those who do want to speak the language, too.

Children should be allowed to choose what language they would like to learn. Nonsense. Maybe noble to give such freedom of choice about learning languages, but if parents don’t do something to teach kids languages before age 15, they will never really learn it very well. They will speak an L2 (second language) heavily influenced by their L1 and never be as comfortable or fluent in it as they would had their parents taught them earlier. We don’t give kids this choice for reading, L2′s are a similar scenario. And besides, when kids become autonomous adults, they will have the free will to stop speaking their L1 and L2 should they so desire.

A revived language should be for traditional activities, telling folktales. Nonsense. This is a crippling constraint. A language is used for everything, noble, humble, shameful, glorious. It is used for things that give us a warm nostalgic feeling and it’s used for things we abhor- fighting, cussing and being silly. Don’t respect a lost people and a lost way of life by only using a language for fond nostalgia. Instead respect the modern fans and users of a language who are keeping the traditions alive and have real world things to say.

Action on language revival should only move forward when all or most of the community is in agreement, on design, methodology, etc, etc. Nonsense. This a crippling constraint. Organizations move slow, or not at all, especially on issues that are outside of their ordinary domain. Local governments, schools have different goals, language revival being low on the list (unless there are some visionary leaders in the mix). A language can’t be revived in a vacuum, but it can’t stand around and wait for the world to buy into the idea of language revival or creation. A language community, at best, should hope to find a coalition of the willing and start speaking today. If the community is just two people, it’s a start and given the high risk of language (re)-creation projects in general, it may be the peak of it’s success. Once a language community exists, then that community has grounds for approaching formal structures (like local governments) for recognition and participation.

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