Emotion and Linguistic Diversity

In this paper we shall try to explain why speakers experience their languages so passionately. One explanation is based on the role language plays in the construction of the community and in the fact that it is a clear mark of belonging. Furthermore, we support another reason. Speakers experience their language as something received from their ancestors and that they are obliged to transmit to their descendents, an imperative which carries an extraordinary emotional charge. In fact, fear of the death of a language is experienced as an act of irreparable non-fulfilment. Why? We believe that language is one of the most evident signs of community, much more than the sum of the individuals of which it is composed. Indeed, it is a long-lasting entity projected into both the past and the future and which, moreover, accumulates within the language the whole of the culture. In the survival of the community and the language we find a response, even though it may be illusory, to the need for transcendence: our ancestors live on in our language and we, if we meet our obligations, live on in the language of our descendents ​
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