As you may have noticed, most people primarily speak and learn vehicular languages (also called lingua franca). This is because they want to be pragmatic and optimize their time and effort by focusing in on a “useful language”.
First of all, what makes a language attractive to learn? Here are a few criteria:
– Number of speakers
– Average wealth of its speakers
– Level of difficulty in learning it
– How important it is from an economic perspective
– Cultural output (movies, books, academic research, etc.)
– Degree of connection with other languages (etymology etc.) that makes it easier to learn a related language
– Number of organizations which use this language
– Spirituality: is that language used principally in a religion (a vehicle for that religion) such as Sanskrit, Hebrew, etc.
And we may see that the more a language is the vehicle for something (wealth, culture, knowledge, potential social interactions, prestige etc.) the more it attracts learners.
All languages are vehicular to some extent, nonetheless some are little trucks while others are cargo ships.
By comparison, some will qualify as vehicular and others vernacular. Some people may even speak of the vernacular ones as if they were useless.
Are such languages really “useless” languages?
Some may support the idea that languages are like animals: some may have to die, and that’s just called natural selection. That’s true, but humans are not just animals any more, we are social, cultural and collaborative beings. Our existence relies on the survival of others. This also explains why we care about our elders, even though they are weaker than us. Elders carry knowledge, wisdom, and an identity that is basically the essence of what young people are made of. The same applies with languages: we need to look after them by adopting one that is “weak”, because it carries a part of our human identity and our heritage. When a language disappears, we lose a connection with one of our distant ancestors which implies that humanity isn’t really the same after it.
Each language contains a part of humanity’s soul and it’s our duty as a worthy child to adopt one that has gone adrift.