Aramaic, the language of Jesus, is almost dead. Aramaic is a semitic language that is related to Hebrew and Arabic. It was commonly used in the Middle East, in Egypt, China and India as a commerce as well as government language. Some sections of the Bible were in Aramaic. The renown writing on the wall that was seen by Nebuchadnezzar which prefaced the fall of the Babylonians was in Aramaic. Jesus spoke in Aramaic when he was dying on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” At the moment, Aramaic is down to its last generation of speakers. Few children or grandchildren of the native speakers are learning the language. What’s more, most of the speakers are widely scattered all over the world, making it difficult to preserve the language. It is expected that by the end of the century, at least 50-90 percent of the languages that are currently spoken will be extinct.
A dying language is one which is falling out of use, with the native speakers preferring to speak other languages due to the convenience they provide. A dying language is likely to become extinct in the near future if efforts to revive it are not made. Apart from Hebrew, that was spoken in Israel, no other extinct language has ever been revived to the extent that it became a first language of a particular people group. The are are various reasons why native speakers abandon their primary languages. This includes for upward social mobility, economic and political factors.
There are various ways to save a dead language. This includes governments respecting the culture and identity of minority speaker communities. Governments should not pass harsh policies that will discourage the use of various languages. Also, technology can be used to preserve languages by creating a database and recordings of the languages. Marginalized communities should take advantage of technology to reach out to a wider global audience. Coming up with dictionaries and literary texts for various languages is important in preserving and understanding the culture of various people groups.