Re: Is language necessary for preservation of culture?

Julia E Smith (
7 Jan 1997 21:59:15 GMT

In article <01bbfac0$7a6dc660$3f067018@supra-r>,
Keta Nannithamby <> wrote:
>Is the Language necessary for preservation of the culture?
>I like to have the answers to this question based on the minorities
>like Chineese living western world?
>(ie. Should the Chineese in North America preserve thier language
> in order to preserve the Chineeese Culture among the future
> generations)

One of the ethnic groups that has been highly successful in preserving a
heritage in the United States have been Irish-Americans, though I know
very few of them who speak Irish Gaelic fluently. However, one may also
observe that many of the features of Irish-American culture are uniquely
Irish-American, rather than truely Irish. I point them out as they are a
group that has faced little discrimination in recent years and are not
marked in any physical way as being distinct from the dominant
Anglo-American culture. Asian-Americans of all types have faced a great
deal of discrimination even recently, which has led/forced them to create
ethnic enclaves in which speaking English may not even be necessary.

It is probably true, however, that at some point, maintaining a language
becomes very challenging, in the face of cultural assimilation.
Nonetheless, we can be content reminding ourselves that many of the
children who grow up speaking English decide as college students or adults
to learn the language of their ancestors.

Julia Smith
University of Pittsburgh