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Languages in Danger

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As a Caucasian American I am rarely thought of as being an immigrant but

the truth is, unless we are a hundred percent Native American then at some point

our family immigrated here from somewhere else. Yes I was born here, as were the

last two generations of my family, but much of my heritage comes from the Czech

Republic. I had the chance to visit Prague a few years ago when I was living in

Europe. My family has always told me we have a diverse background and our

ancestors were from many different countries but when I was in Prague I saw many

facial features I shared with its residents. For me, this was an amazing experience. I

had a sense of being home even though I had never been there before and it made

me long to be able to speak Czech so I could communicate better with the people

there. A person that comes from a background with an extinct language would not

have the opportunity to have such an experience because that part of their heritage

would be gone.

After living in Europe I understand identity and language are intertwined

and I have had conversations with bilingual people about just this topic. During

these conversations I have had almost all of them tell me some form of the

statement when they speak in one language they think differently than when

speaking another. Without a native language and this separate way of thinking

unique cultural traits are lost because not everything translates directly. I have read

articles by people native to places other than my own and they almost always say

their language has a word or phrase that has a special meaning but something about

it is lost in translation.

Although losing one’s heritage and culture is tragic there



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