[…] the oft-heard claim that the death of a language means the death of a culture puts the cart before the horse. When the culture dies, naturally the language dies along with it. The reverse, however, is not necessarily true. Groups do not find themselves in the bizarre circumstance of having all of their traditional cultural accoutrements in hand only to find themselves incapable of indigenous expression because they no longer speak the corresponding language. Native American groups would bristle at the idea that they are no longer meaningfully “Indian” simply because they no longer speak their ancestral tongue. Note also the obvious and vibrant black American culture in the United States, among people who speak not Yoruba but English.
Elsewhere – judging by Futurismic’s summary – McWhorter seems to suggest that language extinction is a function of globalisation and reduced isolation, and therefore shouldn’t be regarded as bad.
This seems to me to run directly contrary to the arguments about linguistic diversity and biodiversity being related. I don’t think I know McWhorter – Alex, does he have form?