As globalisation continues languages are disappearing faster than ever, leaving our planet's linguistic diversity leaping towards extinction. The science of how languages are acquired is becoming more advanced and the internet is bringing us new ways of teaching the next generation, however it is increasingly challenging for minority languages to survive in the face of a handful of hegemonic 'super-tongues'.
In Speak Not: Empire, Identity and the Politics of Language (Zed Books, 2021), James Griffiths reports from the frontlines of the battle to preserve minority languages, from his native Wales, Hawaii and indigenous American nations, to southern China and Hong Kong. He explores the revival of the Welsh language as a blueprint for how to ensure new generations are not robbed of their linguistic heritage, outlines how loss of indigenous languages is the direct result of colonialism and globalisation and examines how technology is both hindering and aiding the fight to prevent linguistic extinction.
Introducing readers to compelling characters and examining how indigenous communities are fighting for their languages, Griffiths ultimately explores how languages hang on, what happens when they don't, and how indigenous tongues can be preserved and brought back from the brink.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.