• 2007-10-24
  • Seo Jinseok, a Korean citizen living in Tartu
From the beginning of history, the conversion and preservation of language has always been a struggle, yet an essential task. The value of language is more than as a means necessary for communication. Language is the foundation where the mentality of a people is preserved. The loss of language is directly connected to the forfeiture of a national identity. All Baltic states, including Estonia, clearly remember the fate of numerous Baltic tribes who inhabited their coastal areas without managing to preserve their native languages.

The logic that language is nothing but a means makes sense only in the situation when a powerful country plans to exploit or colonize its neighboring vulnerable nations. Language as a means is applicable in the sense that it is used for collecting local information necessary for colonization and conveying commands suggested by the occupying society to the lower classes. Language as a means is for people who didn't fully manage to integrate into the society. Actually they don't much care about the loss of the language.
A language can disappear due to the extinction of a people as well as due to their assimilation into a larger neighboring community. Such "voluntary" extinction can easily be found in the area governed by the powerful nation, which considered the vernacular for the passive means.

Language is like a foundation stone for Estonians, who made immense efforts to conserve the mentality and culture of their ancestors which were on the edge of extinction for centuries. As long as their mentality and philosophy are not given priority, true integration will never come.

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