Globalization is dramatically increasing nowadays affecting the world in different ways. For instance, the way how we interact, communicate and perceive other people’s cultures has changed as globalization develops and continues to increase. Manfred B. Steger defines globalization as a societal process “characterized by the existence of global economic, political, cultural, linguistic and environmental interconnections and flows that make the many of the currently existing borders and boundaries irrelevant” (Schwegler, 2006). Globalization has impacted almost every aspect of modern world including various positive and negative effects on languages.
Every language is a rich heritage of the culture to which it belongs to as a basic feature of its speakers’ identity. Like dominant languages, minority languages are one of the influential ways to keep a nation connected with its heritage. There are various opinions regarding minority languages and globalization. Many linguists argue that as a result of globalization, the dominance of some languages leads other languages into extinction. The spread of English language has been mostly associated with globalization since its use is necessary for social, political and international exchanges. Nevertheless, Baysha (2015) claims that English language is considered a threat to other languages when it is accepted and functions as a “lingua franca” in those countries. Otherwise, in countries where English is learned as a foreign language people are not deprived from the knowledge and culture of their heritage.
Moreover, Mufwene (2002) argues that the dominant languages of the world are not the killer languages. What has endangered the minority languages to extinction is also the local globalization. Thus, language shift and endangerment may also be part of language evolution as minority populations may have gained from language shift and in this way this process leads to language extinction.
However, globalization as a natural phenomenon may not always be a threat to minority languages. Instead, globalization can have a positive impact on minority languages for arousing an awareness of their endangerment. According to Crystal (as cited in Shalom, 2015), the school curriculum, the media, arts, and the internet are the main tools of engaging the people in creating an awareness of minority languages endangerment. Thus, governments, linguists and language speakers should pay attention to these four major means to raise ethnic consciousness of the people.
Every language conveys a part of history, identity, culture, and civilization. Thus their survival is significant. It is evident that globalization may lead to the extinction of minority languages especially local globalization may have caused language shift and as a result gradual death of some minority languages. However, the other side of the coin is that if globalization is properly harnessed, it can be an advantage to local languages. There are many factors that should be taken into account in order to save endangered languages from extinction; a process which would lead to a loss of cultural and linguistic heritage. To keep local languages alive, it is crucial to use them. The integration of minority languages in the school curriculum and the incorporation of the media and the internet in teaching, learning and documenting endangered languages can support the development and maintenance of the minority languages.