Languages should not be protected. By protecting a language that is falling out of favor you force inefficiency of communication. They have attempted on many occasions to pass a law making English the official language of the United States. These efforts have failed because the vast majority of people do not want language mandated.
We should be allowed choice to determine which languages we want spoken in the world. Just because something is old doesn't mean it's good. We call this the appeal to antiquity.
@Nico, languages do not "fall out of favour" because they are inefficient means of communication; no language is inherently inferior to any other. Many, if not most, endangered languages are endangered due to concerted efforts by aggressive foreign powers to eradicate the languages themselves, or the cultures they represent, or the very people who speak them.
It seems reasonable to me that, after spending so much time, money and effort in trying to destroy a language, at least the same amount should be spent to promote or revitalise it, if its speakers or their descendants so desire.
"We should be allowed choice to determine which languages we want spoken in the world." I'm not sure who you mean by "we", but if you mean the whole of humanity, including speakers of endangered and minority languages, then I agree. But in order to fully exercise their choice, some language communities may need extra support. It's not easy to reverse hundreds of years of institutionalised discrimination and forced assimilation.
For the record, I myself am a speaker of an endangered minority language (Irish).
There is no need for protection. Things change with time, and it's impossible to keep certain languages from becoming extinct.
They need to be protected, because we need to celebrate diversity !
<em>Why do minority languages need to be protected?</em>
<em>Why should minority languages be protected?</em>
I read an interesting book on the topic, called <em>Language in Danger</em>, a few years ago. One point made in the book is that major languages are enriched my minority languages, and the death of a minority language means a loss for the surviving languages.
My country has the highest rate of language extinction on the planet, and this has happened only in the last couple of centuries. About 80% of Australian indigenous languages have either been killed off, or are moribund. You would have to be a complete bigot to not see a problem here; it had almost nothing to do with language, and far too much to do with politics.
If you think languages just die off and it's no problem, then you have your head stuck in the sand (or in some other dark place). I understand Coligno's point, as one of the languages I speak was also prohibited for some time. Keeping this in mind really puts a perspective on things.