Monday, August 18, 2014

Death of Aramaic

The language of Jesus may be dying after thousands of years, thanks to ISIS. I'm not invested in religion, but I do find languages to be interesting. For instance, I watched The Passion of the Christ not for its story or religious importance, but because I wanted to hear Aramaic spoken. According to a Foreign Policy article, ISIS may be crushing Aramaic out of existence. From the FP article:
    Beyond the urgent humanitarian crisis lies a cultural and linguistic emergency of historic proportions. The extinction of a language in its homeland is rarely a natural process, but almost always reflects the pressures, persecutions, and discriminations endured by its speakers. Linguist Ken Hale famously compared the destruction of a language to "dropping a bomb on the Louvre" -- whole patterns of thought, ways of being, and entire systems of knowledge are among what is lost. If the last Aramaic speaker finally passes away two generations from now, the language will not have died of natural causes.
As much as I like language, I find most of the article to be sensationalized in the typical media fashion. Languages come and go, and it is most certainly not like "dropping a bomb on the Louvre". Things change, some things die and fade away, to be replaced by other things. No reason to go into hysterics.

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