A language is more than just a way of speaking with others. It carries rich cultural context, long-held belief systems, and the many values and attitudes unique to it. Not only that, but many languages, like English, adopt words from other languages, including chauffeur from French, a cappella from Italian, doppelgänger from German, and countless more. If half of the world’s current 7,000+ languages were to go extinct, English would still suffer, resulting in less cultural history and a drop in diversity in the English language.
While English is far from extinction, an evolution of the language is entirely possible. Take Old English, for instance. Now an obsolete form of English, it evolved into what is now referred to as Middle English, followed by Early Modern English to our current Modern English. Each of these stages lasted 2-4 centuries before a complete evolution occurred. Even then, our Modern English language has countless dialects—American, Australian, British, Canadian, and many more. Considering all these different dialects and the lifespan of each English stage, it’s only a matter of time before future English speakers see another evolution.
Let’s imagine, however, that the English language is on the brink of extinction and a brand-new language has begun to take its place entirely. All English-speaking countries like England, the United States, and Australia would begin to lose the cultural context, traditions, beliefs, values, and dialects embedded deep within their language. The regulative and constitutive rules that govern the English language we know today would be replaced by that of the new one. As English dies out, we would have no other option but to learn the new language and prepare for the inevitable end. Thankfully, this worrisome scenario is not the case and we can continue to cherish all of the qualities of our language that make it unique and the context that accompanies it.