1. Do you think the majority of languages around the world will eventually die out?
2. Do you think that governments should have programmes to protect minority languages, or should we accept that they will die out? Can you think of any dead languages? Do you think that their speakers would have predicted that their languages would eventually die out?
3. Do you like the way your mother tongue is changing? What do you think the future of your mother tongue is?
4. Can you think of any advantages and disadvantages of using English as a lingua franca?
5. Do you like to adopt new words and expressions?
6. What would be the advantages and disadvantages of having a global language?
7. Can you think of any instances in which people are expected to have a good command of English?
8. In what situations should you mind your language?
9. Can you tell us about the last time you faced a language barrier?
10. When was the last time you couldn't get a word in edgeways?
11. Do you prefer to listen to someone who beats about the bush or who gets to the point?
1. When was the last time you witnessed two people talking at cross purposes?
2. Have you ever had to give anybody a good talking-to?
3. Do you have any friends who always talk shop? How do you feel about it?
1. Do you find it irritating when they ask you to run everything by again?
2. Have you ever been in a situation in which you couldn't make head nor tail of what was being said?
3. When was the last time you got the wrong end of the stick?
1. Some languages are in a very poor state nowadays, particularly given today’s climate of mass culture and so on.
For instance, I have often heard stories of punishment that my parents received for speaking their own language at school. They are able to laugh about it now, but at the time it was considered deeply shaming. It made them feel as the country bumpkin, someone to be despised.
On the one hand these punishments were effective in the sense that they lowered the status of a language. On the other hand they also caused resentment and made people more defiant towards the authorities. You know, it can be a bit like pruning a tree- if you cut it back, it grows much stronger.
However, globalisation and tourism are much more powerful forces which represent a much bigger threat to the survival of a minority language
Although tourism can give a language status by attracting outside interest in it, it can also have a negative effect on local cultures. You know, here in Mallorca, the natives moan about the influx of outsiders and how they buy up land at giveaway prices to build holiday cottages, and how it’s destroying their culture, and so on. But then the very same people are selling up their farms so they can run hotels or open souvenir shops. Understandable, perhaps, but they’re encouraging the very thing they’re complaining about.
If no positive action is taken, some languages will simply die out. The problem is that some people are indifferent, and even hostile to their own language. They think it’s of no use in the modern world, which they so desperately want to be part of. Fortunately, though, there are enough people around who realize that to lose your mother tongue is like losing a part of yourself. Your language makes you who you are. And if you spoke a different language, maybe you would be a different person.
2. People on their own can’t do much. It is really up to the authorities to legislate to ensure the survival of minority languages.
I think there are several things you can do. Firstly, of course, the authorities would have to bring in some language experts to analyse the present situation. Secondly, these experts…
lingua franca: /ˌlɪŋɡwə ˈfræŋkə/ a medium of communication used between people who speak different languages. E.g. English has become a lingua franca in many parts of the world.
global language: a language used all around the world. E.g. English has become a global language.
command of a language: /kəˈmɑːnd/ ability to use a language. E.g. Applicants will be expected to have (a) good command of English.
mind/ watch your language: pay attention to the words that you use (for example, in order not to appear rude). E.g. Watch your language, young man!
language barrier: a breakdown in communication as a result of people not having a common language in which to communicate. The difficulties faced when people who have no language in common attempt to communicate with each other. E.g. Investigators faced a language barrier because the husband and wife only spoke Cantonese. The couple then went to a local French hospital, but the language barrier proved a slight problem.
(not) get a word in edgeways (not) to be able to say anything because somebody else is speaking too much. E.g. When Mary starts talking, no one else can get a word in edgeways.
beat about the bush (British English) (North American English beat around the bush) to talk about something for a long time without coming to the main point. E.g. Stop beating about the bush and tell me what you want.
to the point expressed in a simple, clear way without any extra information or feelings. Pertinent. Relevant. E.g. The letter was short and to the point. His evidence was brief and to the point. Please get to the point of all this. Will you kindly get to the point? (get to the important part).
cross purposes: /ˌkrɒs ˈpɜːpəsɪz/ if two people are at cross purposes, they do not understand each other because they are talking about or aiming at different things, without realizing it. E.g. I think we're talking at cross purposes; that's not what I meant at all. I think we're/they're at cross-purposes (Sp. creo que estamos/están hablando de cosas distintas). We seem to be talking at cross-purposes (Sp. esto parece un diálogo de sordos).
talking-to: a serious talk with somebody who has done something wrong. E.g. to give somebody a good talking-to. They gave Peter a talking-to about solving problems with words, not fists. The boss gave us a real talking-to at half time and we came out with more aggression for the second half.
run something by (someone) (again) to explain something to someone again; to say something to someone again. E.g. I didn't hear you. Please run that by me again. Please run it by so we can all hear it.
get (hold of) the wrong end of the stick (British English, informal) to understand something in the wrong way. To misunderstand something. E.g. The game was probably the most sensitive treatment and realistic treatment of battle displayed in a video game at that point, so obviously, the media got the wrong end of the stick.