There are many many languages in the world, and the more obscure indigenous languages die each year as the generation that speak them pass away. The people at National Georgraphic
see that as a very bad thing, and I can see some of their points. Why it's bad:
-Study of that language lost (like classifying it in a certain family)
-Anthropology, sociology, psychology, linguistic, and history people miss the change to study and chronicle it
But then I have some counter arguments. They are devoting a lot of people, money, and energy to chronicling these dying languages. What's the use? Latin is a dead language, what use is it to us? Not much. We've named plants and animals in Latin, and "e pluribus unum" is printed on our pennies. What for? Why do we have a foreign language printed on our coins? I think it means "the public united," but why can't that be said in English?Why it's not the worst thing in the world:
-The world is changing and language is evolving to reflect that
-People still express themselves with language anyway
-It costs time and money to save them
-Dead languages are not very useful, if useful at all
-Often, not many people speak the indigenous languages anyway. What are you gonna do after saving it, force people to use it? Fat lot of good you've done.
-There are other things for anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, linguists, and historians to study that are more pertinent to the times... like...
-Major languages. They are major for a reason. Study major languages, cuz there's still stuff we don't know about language. Like language development. There are several major theories to it but we still don't know. Why study obscure languages while we don't even fully understand how our brains use the major ones? That's like jumping in the deep end of a swimming pool without knowing how to swim.
-In the end, what's the use? What's the functionality? Are they gonna do something useful with the saved languages? Or are they archiving them just for the sake of archiving them. What's the use of all that?
-They say why it's so bad, and one of the phrases is "we lost a piece of how to figure out how our brains work" or something. Come again? Language is language. I can say cat in spanish, english, and cherokee; it's all "cat." Reasons like that are too vague, shaky, and speculative for me to support.
I am sad that languages die. But there are worse things. There are better things to save. There are still a bajillion active languages people use daily, and we've not exhausted studying those. Regardless, their project is still interesting to read about for a language-holic like me.