How to Kill a Language

In language, few things are as interesting and intriguing as the capacity for innovation and creativity that serve as the basis of a “living language.” Without these properties, languages become paralyzed and inevitably embark upon the path to their linguistic demise. Nonetheless, in many languages there is a minority of native speakers that are infatuated with maintaining “purity” and uniqueness, unwilling to allow their tongue to evolve and change, adapting to new realities, technologies, etc.

The most notable manifestation of this tendency can be found in the abundance of regulating bodies that essentially decide what is and what isn’t considered part of that given language. Without a doubt, among these institutions there are some that resist all outside influences (for example, l’Académie française) and others that are more receptive to external inputs. The most obstinate of them all are surely the ones that do not show acceptance for innovations and changes originating from within the native speaker group itself…a sense of purism that most people would find suffocating.

English is relatively unique among the major languages of the world in that it lacks any such regulating body; consequently, it is not surprising that standard English usage is incredibly fluctuating and evolves at a phenomenal rate.

Personally, I find the whole premise of these regulating bodies to be completely farcical and consider that their long term effect is to diminish the relevance and versatility of any given language. Furthermore, there appear to be strong undertones of xenophobia and notions of cultural superiority that dominate these bodies, only reinforcing my disdain for them. Thankfully, in many languages the native speakers disregard the “rules” set out by these bodies and thereby guarantee the vigor and resilience of their tongue.