Tábhacht na hilghnéitheachta Teanga | The Importance of Language Diversity


We are all aware of the arguments for biodiversity and the general concern expressed about the state of the natural world.

We have all heard about Global Warming and the loss of animal and plant species it may induce, yet many are unaware of the threat to linguistic diversity.

As 5,000 languages may be lost by end of this century and each one of these takes with it the histories, mythologies, philosophies, sciences, jokes, songs, riddles and superstitions of its community of speakers.

Language is obviously a vital tool. Not only is it a means of communicating thoughts and ideas, but it forges friendships, cultural ties, and economic relationships

Throughout history, many have reflected on the importance of language. For instance, the scholar Benjamin Whorf has noted that language shapes thoughts and emotions, determining one’s perception of reality. John Stuart Mill said that:

“Language is the light of the mind”

For the linguist Edward Sapir, language is not only a vehicle for the expression of thoughts, perceptions, sentiments, and values characteristic of a community; it also represents a fundamental expression of social identity. Sapir said:

“the mere fact of a common speech serves as a peculiar potent symbol of the social solidarity of those who speak the language.”

In short, language retention helps maintain feelings of cultural kinship.

In the world today multilingualism is being recognised as an asset, not only in bringing people from different cultures and traditions together, but also because each language reflects community knowledge, a different view on the world.  Different ways of thinking and approaching problems are now being actively viewed as an important resource in the world.  This variation in how we see things drives innovation and a dynamic world economy.

This is expressed by Micheál Cronin The author of An Ghaeilge sa Nua Aois :

“it would be tantamount to political, social and cultural suicide to relinquish the very extensive and distinctive (because not existing elsewhere) cognitive and aesthetic resources available in Irish language and culture.  For even the most aggressively philistine pragmatist, such abandonment would represent a serious narrowing of the basis for any future knowledge society that might be constructed on the island”


Is eol dúinn uile na hagóintí ar son bithéagsúlachta agus an imní choiteann a luaitear faoi staid an dúlra.

Chuala muid uile iomrá ar an Téamh Domhanda agus chailliúnt na speiceas ainmhí agus planda a thiocfadh dá bharr, ach is beag a thuigeann an bhagairt atá ar ilghnéitheacht teanga

B’fhéidir go gcaillfí suas le 5,000 teanga roimh dheireadh an chéid seo agus le gach ceann acu imeoidh staireanna, miotaseolaíochtaí, fealsúnachtaí, eolaíochtaí, greann, amhráin , tomhais agus piseoga phobail a labhartha.

Beo-uirlis í teanga, is léir. Ní amháin gur mean cumarsáide smaointe agus idéanna í, ach cruthaíonn sí cairdis.

I rith na staire, is iomaí duine a rinne machnamh ar thábhacht teanga. Mar shampla, luaigh an scoláire Benjamin Whorf go múnlaíonn teanga smaointe agus mothúcháin agus socraíonn an dóigh a mbraithfidh duine an réaltacht. Dúirt John Stuart Mill:

“Is í an teanga solas na hintinne”

Dar leis an teangeolaí Edward Sapir, ní amháin gur gléas léirithe smaointe, braistintí, mothúchán, agus luachanna sainiúla pobail atá sa teanga; ach is ionann í agus léiriú bunúsach céannachta sóisialta. Arsa Sapir:

“is ionann caint choiteann bheith ann agus sainchomhartha cumhachtach dlúthpháirtochta sóisialta an dreama a labhraíonn an teanga.”

I mbeagán focal, cothaíonn caomhnú teanga dáimh chultúrtha.

Ar na saolta seo inniu táthar ag tosú a aithint mar shócmhainn é an t-ilteangachas, ní amháin i gcomhcheangal daoine ó chultúir agus thraidisiúin éagsúla, ach fosta ar an ábhar go léiríonn gach teanga eolas pobail, dearcadh eile ar an domhan. Feictear anois i ndóigheanna éagsúla smaointe agus réiteach fadhbanna, acmhainn thábhachtach don domhan. An dóigh úr seo le hamharc ar conas a fheicmid cúrsaí, tiomáinfidh sí nuáil agus geilleagar cumhachtach domhanda.

Tá sé seo ráite ag Micheál Cronin údar An Ghaeilge sa Nua-Aois :

“b’ionann agus féinmharú polaitiúil, sóisialta agus cultúrtha scaradh leis na hacmhainní an-leathana agus sainiúla (ó nach maireann siad aon áit eile) cognaíocha agus aeistéitiúla atá ar fáil i dteanga agus i gcultúr na Gaeilge. Fiú ag an phragmataí filistíneach is ionsaithí, b’ionann scaradh mar sin agus caolú tromchúiseach bhonn aon tsochaí eolasbhunaithe a thiocfadh a thógáil ar an oileán”

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