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Future Problems for Historians

Updated on June 20, 2011


It is said that when God destroyed the tower of Babylon, he sent the people away all speaking in different “tongues”.

Whether this is true or not, there are certainly thousands of languages spoken in the World.

However it is estimated that these languages are dying at a rate of 161 per year, an estimated total of 6300 over the next 40 years.

These languages mainly started to die out as a result of the European colonization of the World. An example being that in Mexico, prior to the Spanish arriving, 68 languages were spoken. The Spanish mandated that only Spanish be taught in schools, therefore starting the decline of the other languages. Ayapaneco is one of these languages and is now believed to be known to only two old men and they don’t speak to each other.

A language can suffer one of two fates. When a language is said to be dead, then it is still known but isn’t officially used any where. When a language becomes extinct, it means that no body knows the language any more.

Many people say that it is good that we have fewer languages, as this makes communications easier. This is true, as life would certainly be easier if every body in the World only spoke one language.

The problem is that, just as today Historians struggle to translate texts or writings from ancient civilizations, the historians of the future may struggle with languages that are now becoming extinct.

We are fully aware today, that the knowledge of our history has played an important part in our present. Scientists continue to labor in deciphering ancient texts, in the hope that we can learn more about our beginnings.

I hope that for all our sakes and especially for the historians of the future, that some body some where is keeping copies of these languages before they become extinct.


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    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      10 years ago

      The death of a language is a death of the unique culture. Language is one of the strongest elements of any culture, so when that is lost this is tragic.

    • Alice DeWonder profile image

      Alice DeWonder 

      10 years ago from 3rd planet from Sun

      History is a compound word; his + story. (yes that little gem is copyrighted 2002 by me)

      It's not so much as the history being lost, but the wealth of perspective. - (I know; "What the devil is she talking about now?) As an off-spring of Italian speakers, I noticed that the American words that they incorporated for descriptions were unique. Later this assisted in my abilities to teacher/learn from my English as a second language population.

      Since the arrival of "the big silver screen" and later the neon oven, television, We appear to be mortaring our individuality into one perspective.....but that's merely my perspective. (:

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      10 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      This is really the realm of the Anthropologists rather than the Historian.

    • profile image


      10 years ago from Franklin

      Great homework. You d id it well. Interesting.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I like the direction you're going in this HUB. But Wesman Todd Shaw is right. It was Babel not Babylon. I kind of don't think historians would so much have a problem with languages being destroyed as with people in charge in any given period of time getting pissed off and trying to destroy records of others who existed. That's my take!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Another interesting article. Thanks

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 

      10 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Thank you for this very interesting hub!

      My personal belief is that the Tower of Babel story is an allegory, and a foreshadowing - time and time again mankind seeks to create a world system of government, and every time it fails miserably. Man will have his world government - but it will be the most horrific period of time that the world has ever endured.


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