Spanish, a dying language…?

A while ago, my sister-in-law, a linguist herself with a keen interest for anthropology in general but particularly Latin american, sent me this incredible article about dying languages knowing that as a translator, it would tickle my interest. It certainly did and it also made me wonder a couple of things. Firstly, whether the Kusunda language had been one of the casualties that should be listed in the aftermath of the earthquake that devastated Nepal in April. And secondly, whether my cousin, an anthropologist in the Chilean Tierra del Fuego, knew anything about Keyuk, the main character in the article. To the first question, I do not have an answer yet. However, to the second question I do have an answer and I am proud to say that my very clever cousin does indeed know Keyuk and works in projects to promote the Fueguinian culture and way of life.

For some reason that I think I am beginning to understand, this article felt particularly close at heart and perhaps, a little uncomfortable. Why? Because I have three little children at home. So? Well, the language that we try to speak at home is Spanish. My wife is Ecuadorian and me being Spanish should be an fertile ground to practice the language. But we seem to be fighting against the tide. Even though all of our three children speak Spanish fairly well (not counting the accent), and can communicate successfully in Spanish, the spend most of the time at school speaking English. In fact, our oldest son, who is in his last year of primary school, refused to speak Spanish in our last holidays there. He simply refused… I read to them in Spanish, we play films in Spanish…There is no reasoning that I can hurl, no bribe, no reward that I can offer… He just will not speak Spanish. I do hope that is just early teenage angst onset.

I also hope that this blog will not turn into a chronicle of an announced death. That death being the one of the Spanish language in our home.

map of disappearing languages

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