Answer these questions:
a According to the UNESCO report
- how many languages are there in the world today?
- how many are in danger of dying out by 2 100?
b Where do speakers of the Ainu and Maori languages live?
c How many Welsh speakers were there in 199 l? How many are there today?
d What are the arguments in favo ur of 'language revitalization'?
e What are the arguments against language revitalization?
A: According to the UNESCO report we read,there are more than 6,000 languages in theworld today, but over half are in danger ofdying out before the end of this century .
B: Yeah, like the language used by the Ainuin Japan. It has less than a few hundredspeakers left.
A: Or the Maori language in New Zea land. The report says one language becomes extinct every two weeks. It's terrible. Basically, I think we need to do whatever it takes to keep these languages alive.
D: Hmm. I don't quite see it like that. Can you actually protect a language anyway?
B: Yes, Welsh is a great example.
B: Yes. When the Welsh Language Board was set up in 1991, only 190 percent of the population spoke Welsh. Now it's up to around 250 percent I think, and rising, and most speakers are younger than 30.
A: Yeah, the fact is language revitalization is critical. Every government should do what they can to support languages.
D: I'm not sure I agree. I wonder if we need 6,000 languages. I mean, languages become extinct for a reason, you know .because nobody wants to speak them! We can't assume that every language must naturally survive.
E: I think that's a good point. I mean, things change.
C: But, you know, languages tell us about who we are. You ca n't separate language from culture. Take one away, and the other dies.
E: I don't agree. At least, not for Italy.
A: Do you think you could say a bit moreabout that, please Maria?
E: Sure. Before, there have been over a hundred languages or at least different dialects, inItaly but now basically we all speak Italian,we all feel Italian. We haven't lost our
culture because we all speak the same language.
D: And if we all spoke the same language at least we'd understand each other. There'd be fewer wars and ...
C: I think you might be mistaken on that point.I don't think there would be fewer wars, for a start.
E: Also it costs millions and millions of pounds to keep these tiny languages from dying out.
A: I don't think you've got that right.
C: So you think everyone in the world should speak English?
E: Why not? We all do! Let's use the money on food and clean water for people.
B: That's ridiculous.
D: I don't think so. Are you saying we should let people die just to spend the money on saving a language hardly anyone speaks? Which is more important ... the life of aperson, or the life of a language?