Monday, June 22, 2015
We all come from Africa, Thanks God almighty, that's sure!
The essential lessons on the topic were delivered by Gustave Guillaume in 1958-1960. They were edited and published in 1995 by Roch Valin and Walter Hirtle . I will only remind you of two things here.
When Gustave Guillaume says:
“That’s how the primary area after having, in some places in this world, lasted for N millennia . . . petered out, replaced by the secondary area that too was to last more or less . . . It is not at all the same thing for the ternary area that was opened by the precocious extinction of the secondary area . . . : it demonstrates its unlimited capacity to last . . . the property given to each of the three areas to be able to last historically. The duration of the first two being limited and the duration of the last one being unlimited.” (Gustave Guillaume, 294-295)
Even if we may think he means duration only in some metaphorical way, it is today unthinkable to believe or even accept the death of thousands of languages in the world (The XVth World Congress of Linguists in this Laval University was dedicated in 1992 to that very problem of endangered languages) and it is difficult to imagine Semitic languages disappearing and isolating languages dying away. Of course the order in Gustave Guillaume’s thinking is not the same as the one I have advocated but the order is not at stake here. Languages are identifying elements for human beings and cultures and I am afraid that when a language becomes too defensive, it is because the end is close.