I was wondeirng this too. I have no idea if the OLPC project overall is a good use of funds compared to alternatives (I suspect not, but have zero evidence and no relevent background to state this with authority), but the idea of a literate population witha common language seems like a great idea for a lot of reasons, starting with a literate population that can communicate with their neighbors instead of keeping them as an enemy because they can't communiate to find any common ground.
I've never understood the big deal when a language gradually dies out - insisting on keeping it around is insisting on keeping a group of people stuck in an older culture that doesn't work if they want to interact with others in the modern world.
I'd wager there are often some valuable things lost when a language dies -- myths, sayings, observations on life and human nature -- that if written down and translated, could benefit all of us. (And yes, I know translation isn't always easy.)
I don't entirely disagree with you either. There is a lot to be said for joining the modern world. But I'd like to see people recording what they can of their traditional culture as they do it.
But I'd like to see people recording what they can of their traditional culture as they do it.
We'd all like to see a lot of things. It's unfortunate when things are forever lost, but those things are valuable, they will be translated and kept alive. If the people who know them don't consider them valuable enough, or have not been taught/informed by their culture that they're valuable to keep, they won't do it. Keeping a culture using an isolated language doesn't help that either way.