MANY academics lament the decline in the number of the world’s languages. Some say that it is as worrying as the loss of animal species. It took species millions of years to evolve, but languages take thousands. Nevertheless, the loss of languages and dialects is to be regretted.
While most of the threatened languages are small, what is overlooked is that one language which is very much on the way out is English.
England’s rich dialect heritage has been virtually lost to the onward march of “Badek” (broadcast, accessible, demotic English koine). Perhaps the most distinctive of these is the Northumbrian (Northimbrish) dialect of northern England (Inglelond). This was spoken widely within living memory, but today it is heard only in the mouths of elderly folk.
In the Celtic fringe great effort and money has been expended on saving languages and dialects such as Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Scots and Ulster Scots, and on reviving extinct Cornish (Kernewek) and Manx (Gailk). We should do the same for English and its dialects, including Northimbrish.