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Rather than traditional arguments for why we should strive to save all of the world’s 6,000-some languages, John McWhorter of Columbia University brings a fresh perspective to languages’ value.

The lens of a language presents a unique way of viewing the world, linguists have typically argued. Some ideas have no direct word-for-word interpretation or translation from one language to the next. Japanese speakers name blocks when giving addresses, not streets, for example. Russians have no one word for the color blue.

McWhorter, a professor of linguistics, brings alternative arguments for saving languages to his students:

  1. Language is central to a culture’s identity.
  2. Languages’ variance is just as scientifically significant as that of the world’s flora and fauna.

View McWhorter’s full opinion piece here. What are your thoughts on saving the world’s languages? Share your comments below!