K4: Why People Preserve Languages

Nicole Barton & Seoyeon Kim


Lingua Franca: A language of international communication

Pidgin Language: A group that learns English or another lingua franca, may learn a simplified form, called a pidgin language


- Distinctive languages used in Nigeria

- None of the languages have widespread use.

- English official language but only 2% of Nigerians speak it

- Cultural diversity (language diversity) packed into small region leads to problems

- southern Ibos wanted to secede from Nigeria during the 1960s

- Northerners claimed that Yorubas discriminate against them

- Later government moved capital from Lagos, Yoruba( southwest) to Abuja in the center of Nigeria.

- Illustrates importance of language in identifying cultural groups at local scale.


- major language in the British Isles before invasion of Germanic Angles, Jutes, and Saxons

survived only in remote parts of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland and on the Brittany peninsula of France

- Celtic divides into Goidelic(gaelic) and Brythonic

- 2 Goidelic languages survive: Irish and Scottish Gaelic

- Irish Gaelic one of two official language in Ireland (English and Irish Gaelic) only 75000 people use Irish gaelic exclusively

- 2% of Scottish people(80000) speak Scottish Gaelic

- Brythonic speakers fled to Wales, Cornwall, Brittany peninsula of France.

- Survival of language depends on the political/military strength of its speakers.

- Britain's 1988 Education Act made Welsh language a compulsory subject in all schools in Wales.

- Singers perform in Irish Gaelic, Irish language TV broadcasting

- Cornish language revived in 1920s and taught in grade schools


-Country in multilingual state

- Southern Belgians(Walloons) speak French while Northern Belgians(Flemings) speak Flemish (dialect of the Germanic language of Dutch)

- Language sharply divides country in 2 (Wallonia and Flanders)and aggravated economic and political differences

- Walloons dominant in economy and politics

- Official language is French

- In 1980s Jose Happart, mayor of Voeren in Flanders sent to jail when he refused to speak Flemish which was required by law

- French speaking members quit coalition governing the country forcing the prime minister to resign


In the fourth century BC, Hebrew became extinct, and was only used in religious services. When Israel was established in 1948, it became one of the official languages along with Arabic.


Switzerland has four official languages, German, French, Italian, and Romansh. Even though not a high percentage of people speak Romansh, it became an official language in 1938.


Basque is an isolated language in Europe. One million people speak it in the Pyrenees Mountains.


Icelandic is related to other languages. Over the past thousand years, it has changed the less than any other in the Germanic branch.

How Has Expansion Diffusion Occurred With English?

In recent centuries use of English spread around the world primarily through the British Empire. The current growth in the English language is an example of expansion diffusion, the spread of a trait through the snowballing effect of an idea rather than the relocation of people.