UMMOA extends national mission to practical language preservation

In the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger languages are categorised as safe, if they are spoken by all generations; in other words, intergenerational transmission is uninterrupted.

Languages are categorised as vulnerable if most children speak the language, but it may be restricted to certain domains (eg, at home).

Languages are categorised as definitely endangered if children no longer learn the language as a mother tongue in the home.

Languages are categorised as severely endangered if the language is spoken by grandparents and older generations; while the parent generation may understand the language, the situation is that they do not speak it to children, or among themselves.

Languages are categorised as critically endangered if the youngest speakers are grandparents and older, and they speak the language partially and infrequently.

Languages are categorised as extinct if there are no speakers left. Around 230 languages have become extinct since 1950 [1], and with the death of these languages, unique cultures and histories of people have died as well.

If one follows the UNESCO classification model, the status of the languages spoken in the United Micronations Multi-Oceanic Archipelago (UMMOA) seems to be as follows:

Language Classification
English Safe
Italian Safe
French Safe
German Safe
Portuguese Safe
Russian Safe
Swedish Safe
Dutch Safe
Spanish Vulnerable
Arabic Vulnerable
Tamazight Vulnerable
Japanese Vulnerable

The UMMOA is perhaps the first Nation on Earth to see the global problem of loss of linguistic diversity on a national, not just international level.

There are about 200 languages that have a million or more native speakers each. However, about 2,000 of the world's languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers each [2].

According to UNESCO, if nothing is done, half of all the languages spoken today will disappear by the end of this century [3].

This is a ridiculous statement. Chances are very good that absolutely nothing will be done, that could significantly modify the aforementioned scenario, so the if is not really the issue here, only the when.

As of October 2013, Ethnologue lists 7,105 languages spoken in the world today [4]. According to Michael E. Krauss, American linguist, 20 to 40 percent of all languages are already moribund, and only 5 to 10 percent are safe, in the sense of being widely spoken, or having official status [5].

It is estimated that 90 percent of all spoken languages are used by less than 100,000 people each, and 46 languages have just a single speaker [6]. These facts have convinced David Graddol and Aku Wuwu (Luo Qingchun) that 90 percent of the languages spoken today may become extinct by as early as 2050 [7, 8]. Michael E. Krauss is only a little more optimistic. If people "become wise and turn it around", he predicts that the number of dead or dying languages could be more like 50 percent by 2100 as a best-case scenario [9].

So 50 percent of all spoken languages today are likely to die or become severely endangered by the end of the 21st century. There is not really anything significant you can do about it, on an individual, or even on an organisational level.

The best you can do is limit the damage in your neck of the woods, be it your family, your organisation, your school or community.

Even the United Nations (UN) and all other major international organisations have official and working language policies that impose severe limits to linguistic diversity on a daily basis. UNESCO, therefore, a specialised agency of the UN, is the least qualified organisation to sound the alarm bell on the real threat to linguistic diversity on this planet. The European Union (EU) appears to be the only island of diversity here, however the EU is not really just an international organisation, but more like a system of supranational independent institutions, and even some of the EU's institutions, such as the European Commission, limit the number of working languages to English, French and German. Among genuine international organisations, important languages like Italian are official only at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and at the Latin Union, and the latter organisation has itself become extinct [10].

Sovereign States worldwide do not fare much better with the problem of loss of linguistic (and thus cultural) diversity. Of the world's 193 countries, 178 have at least one official language, which inevitably becomes the universal vehicle of instruction in most schools as well. Many countries recognise more than one language, but curiously this policy is often unpopular. In countries that chose not to designate an official language, a de facto national language usually evolves. English is the most common official language, with some recognised status in 51 countries. French is second with 28 countries. Arabic and Spanish are the official language of 19 countries each, followed by Portuguese (7 countries) and German (5 countries) [11].

Moreover, English is probably destined to become a global lingua franca since in China, English is a required language starting in third grade, and 300 million people in China are studying the language (although the quality and effectiveness of instruction varies greatly); many countries mandate English-language instruction at a primary school level; in all EU school systems it is mandatory to study at least one foreign language, and some 90 percent of pupils learn English as a foreign language, whether the choice of language is obligatory or parental; and in many countries, the majority of adults believe that children need English in order to succeed in the world today [12].

The United States already has educational policies which promote the extinction of virtually all spoken languages except English, which curiously doesn't even enjoy official language status. Spanish is the second most used language in the United States [13], but many people don't even consider it foreign to the US [14], and foreign language teaching in the US, already severely impaired in its emphasis for several reasons, is becoming a Spanish language-only option lately [15].

There are, perhaps, a few encouraging trends. A move to make modern foreign languages, Latin or Greek a requirement from age seven will take place in the UK's National Curriculum in 2014 [16] — the national curriculum of Scotland is different and called Curriculum for Excellence, and has some catching up to do in the foreign language department [17]. In its early years, the Internet was completely dominated by sites in English, but in recent years there has been a proliferation of all kinds of non-English sites. The Wikipedia offers at least a single article in 286 of the world's languages [18]. However, the general trend is towards greater linguistic uniformity, not greater linguistic diversity.

The United Micronations Multi-Oceanic Archipelago (UMMOA) — a territorial Nation and State, and community of Nations and States enjoying a degree of international recognition not comparable to a UN Member State, but not insignificant — to this day has had three major missions, but the mission of practical language preservation needs to be added as a new fourth national mission. The UMMOA now exists:
  1. to preserve human rights (Nation and State function);
  2. to physically preserve human beings and their progeny (religious and salvific function);
  3. to preserve the Earth as a perfect environment for human beings to grow in harmony with the natural environment (environmental and ecological function);
  4. to preserve as much linguistic diversity as is practical, culturally desirable, and economically feasible (linguistic and culture preserving function).
There is not really anything significant an individual, family, or even a large organisation can do today to reverse the strong global trend towards greater linguistic uniformity, at the expense of linguistic or cultural diversity. However, that is no excuse for a Nation, any Nation's inaction, a neglect which could, in the long term, leave future generations so linguistically and culturally impoverished that they can no longer understand where they came from, and where they can potentially go in the future.

The UMMOA's population today is largely anglophile, with significant minorities of Italian, French, and German speakers, who are usually not speakers of the minority languages only. Any article available in both English and Italian could be read by any current UMMOA national without a problem. However, this article is being deliberately translated also into French and Russian to encourage greater linguistic diversity (now the UMMOA's fourth national mission), greater diffusion of quality information on this issue in other important world languages, and also to encourage additional intranational economic transactions in this time of general economic crisis. Some monetary transactions do happen within the UMMOA, but usually to cover technical, not linguistic diffusion costs. The Governor of the UMMOA has deliberately chosen to de-emphasise this general trend in order to provide some economic opportunities to good domestic bilingual translators.

English Original:
Cesidio Tallini

Italian, French, Russian, and Spanish Translations:
Cesidio Tallini, Bertrand Thibert, Yaroslav Mar, and Daniel El Phatehi