An anthropologist at the University of Melbourne has stated that the vibrant linguistic structure in Chinese-occupied Tibet is slowly on the brink of disappearance. An article by The Smithsonian has retraced how internet and government education in the Himalayan plateau has sparked the disintegration of the lesser-known languages in the region.
The finding was part of a research conducted by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Anthropologist Gerald Roche stated that around 2 lakh of the 6.2 million Tibetans do not speak Tibetan. While many speak the Tibetan language, lesser-known minority languages are slowly disappearing.
Roche said that the disappearance of these languages lead to the loss of time-honored traditions which are bound with these languages. According to the Chinese government, 14 languages other than the standardized Tibetan are spoken in Tibet. However, Roche contends that the number maybe as high as 52.
“The [speaker] population is declining and it’s declining because people are no longer speaking those languages to their children,” said Roche.
State-schooling has also contributed towards the disappearance of these languages as children do not speak their native language in these schools. Roche believes that it is incumbent upon the United States and other countries to preserve the rich diversity of the Tibetan language. “Use whatever means possible to gain recognition for these languages: recognition of the fact they exist, that they have unique needs, that they have value, and that they deserve respect,” Roche said.
For future prospects, Tibetan students learn to embrace the Chinese language which holds promises of full-time job opportunities. Albeit the Communist Party has held that the Tibetan culture will be nurtured, the opposite is almost true.