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How a Language Dies

A young woman describes the third generation drop-off of her grandmother’s native language, Chuvash (a Turkic language spoken in Russia and the Chuvash Republic), in the post Ep Sana Yoradap, or How a Language Dies, on the blog In Search of Perfect.


“My grandmother and her sisters speak Chuvash fluently. My mother understands the language, but does not speak it. I cannot claim even that, because I only know three words in Chuvash, albeit these are the most important words in the world, Ep Sana Yoradap [I love you]. It is not difficult to imagine what happens to Chuvash when my mom and grandma are no longer here.” – Yulia, “Ep Sana Yoradap, or How a Language Dies


The “third generation drop-off” is so named because the phenomenon that that Yulia describes is quite common; a language is spoken natively by grandparents, only partially by their children, and not at all by their grandchildren. In three generations, a language can go completely extinct!


What do you think? Is language diversity important? Should we try to preserve languages?

Your thoughts?

Kieran Maynard

Kieran Maynard

Writer, translator, researcher, traveler specializing in Japanese and Chinese literature.

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