An indigenous language

2024-02-16 @Languages

Not until recently did it dawn upon me. I don’t speak or even read any native/indigenous languages, not even dialects. Save for possibly Polish, which 1) developed (not imported) in that very region among a Western Slavonic family, 2) faced threat of suppression and even extinction under the Russian Empire.

I find it awkward to consider a language indigenous unless it somehow undergoes that empirical pressure. And yet prior to the 18th century, Poland itself represented a formidable influence across Europe! So did Lithuania and Hungary, presently but shadows of former prominence.

Beyond that, all the Romance languages at my disposal are products of the Roman empire: the vulgar Latin mixed largely with indigenous or other invading groups (ie Celtic, Germanic, Arabic).

English, the formal, generic variety I speak, is indigenous to nowhere. The British Empire spread around the globe. US further extended the footprint. And prior to all that the Normans imported French onto the island of Anglo-Saxon-Nordic dialects. Out of that confraternity arose English throughout the Middle Ages.

Russian, my birth tongue, likewise flares empirical heraldry. But then I’m of Belorussian origin. Belorussian, derived from regional vernacular dialects, makes for the only other native candidate. Alas, I don’t speak it! (though nigh-perfectly comprehend, thanks largely to the proximity with Polish): Russian having dominated before Belorussian hardly had opportunity to proliferate; then I emigrated before any remote possibility to develop that language further.

That concludes the survey: a series of (mostly) empirical, superstrate lingua francas. Perhaps this partly justifies my lack of national identity. Does identity not largely stem from language?

Rather than develop Belorussian, Ukrainian, Yiddish, Hebrew, Daridja (or some Arabic vernacular), Japanese, Greek, Icelandic, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Georgian, Papiamentu, Tzotzil, Quechua, Wolof, whatever the merits or virtual lack thereof: I became what they call a citizen of the world, a scoundrel, a pillager of national identity.

No. Identity stems from language, but not strictly indigenous language of lengthy foundation. Identity evolves organically from too ranging a factor to care for such trifles.

Now an indigenous language probably strengthens the identity to an extent I can’t envisage. But whatever national void I feel is more likely an inner product of some dementia.

Questions, comments? Connect.