It has been roughly twenty years since the field of linguistics began to focus its attention on the world’s many endangered languages. This has been a laudable development, for a field that had spent the previous four decades pursuing irrelevance with that tenacity that only inveterate academics can muster.
Linguistics, you have a contribution to make to the world, and you have finally stood up and taken your place at the table. People are noticing your field, as you always wished they would. Good on you!
Twenty years is a long time, though, in academic circles. Can any of us remember a linguistic theory that lasted that long? Of course not. The eternal cycle of rebirth and renewal, critique and change, hypothesis and testing and rejection and reformulation, continues to march on, and nothing can remain the same. Stasis is always ephemeral
It is time, therefore, for a new emphasis to emerge within our field. And as a leading voice in the discipline, we at Speculative Grammarian feel it our duty to float the first proposals, to launch discussion, to get the proverbial ball proverbially rolling.
We propose that linguistics should next take up the cause of impaired languages.
By “impaired”, of course, we mean languages which are linguistically impaired.
As in all matters that involve input from linguists, it will naturally be impossible to establish a uniform definition. However, we feel that linguistic impairment is a sufficiently intuitive concept, and that a few examples will serve to establish the field to nearly everyone’s satisfaction.
Impaired languages, then, might suffer from any of the following:
Impairments of these sorts, and many others, require intervention. Linguists have the tools to help. Let us turn our attentions, as a field, to this area in which we can make our next great contribution to the betterment of the human condition.