Essay Sample on Language Shift

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  2
Wordcount:  442 Words
Date:  2022-12-11


Language shift and language death have become subjects of contemporary debates in the recent past. Many languages have been documented as endangered and corrective actions proposed to prevent their death. The world is experiencing a general decline in the number of indigenous languages as more people replace their mother tongues with international languages such as English.

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The podcast "Abandoning Your Mother Tongue." shows a case of abandonment of Russian language and adoption of English as a mother tongue. Language maintenance within a home in was controlled by many factors including, fluency in mother tongue, influence from peers and influence from relatives who speak the mother tongue. Alina was more fluent in English, an exotic language than she was in Russian, her mother tongue. She had used English throughout her education and thus considered it wiser to teach English to her daughter. The preservation of mother tongue thus faces the problem of neglect since some parents in homes can only be fluent at it after rigorous translation from sentences constructed in English. Psychology affects language maintenance when the speakers of a foreign language consider it superior to their mother tongue in describing things and sharing stories. Alina's peers did not teach their children Russian despite being perfect in it after attending schools in Moscow. The preservation of mother tongue is influenced profoundly by social forces. For instance, Alina taught Russian to her daughter after her mother said that she would feel disconnected with her granddaughter if she never learned Russian and their culture (National Public Radio. (2018).

Alina's experience of language shift fits within the language murder context of Baker's discussion. Alina and her friends murder their Russian language when they do not openly teach it to their children who seek English as their mother tongue. All children learn their first language more easily than their second language (De Jong, 2011, p. 78). Their actions directly contribute to language death. Language death occurs when dominant languages replace indigenous languages in their position in the social fabric (De Jong, 2011, p. 78). Alina's mother wanted her granddaughter to learn Russian for the two to fully interact and communicate in a language that depicts their culture.


Contemporary elites consider indigenous languages as modes of identity profiling that harm the harmonious coexistence of people in society. The case of Alina clearly shows the difference between language murder and language suicide. Furthermore, language suicide is caused by factors external to human actions and the use of a specific language.


De Jong, E. (2011). Foundations for multilingualism in education: From principles to practice. Philadelphia, PA: Caslon.

National Public Radio. (2018). Podcasts Directory. Abandoning Your Mother Tongue. Retrieved from

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