Everyone gets conquered sooner or later, but their languages don’t die out.
I was reading Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and this line caught my eye. Among the many themes the landmark sci-fi novel explores, languages and their power over us plays an important role.
But many languages have been lost, gone extinct, someone might say. But languageis not just a random association of voices or symbols that when put together help us communicate. Language is our culture, our world view, the way our society behaves. Language is the edicts of Roman emperors and the letters of POWs, its the underlying binary code of a software and the feeling of listening to “Stairway to Heaven” for the first time. Language is part of rituals and revolutions, of books and of paitings.
And even if a civilization goes extinct, the culture never truly does. It will always stick around, crystallized in the core of the conquering civilizations culture.
Languages, just like culture, don’t die out. They get transformed from one shape to another.