Efforts to save endangered languages

I clipped this from the web six months ago, clearly intending to say something about it. Never quite got round to it at the time and now I have completely forgotten what that was. But I will post it up here anyway in case I do ever remember. I don’t think it was something as boring as being pedantic about the odd way they have phrased their statistics in the emphasized line below. Then again I am quite boring and pedantic so maybe so.

(PhysOrg.com) — There are an estimated 6,500 languages in the world, with around fifty percent of them endangered and likely to cease to exist by 2100, but efforts are now being made to save them from extinction.

Languages are dying out around the globe through globalisation, social change, a shift in populations from rural areas to cities, and often well-intentioned education in national languages and national cultures rather than local indigenous languages and traditions. Of the 6,500 languages estimated by UNESCO to be still in use, only 11 are spoken by half the world’s population(emphasis added), and 95 percent of the languages are spoken by five percent of the global population.

A new project, the World Oral Literature Project, led by anthropologist Dr Mark Turin of the University of Cambridge’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, aims to preserve the linguistic diversity being lost as elders die and young people turn to the national languages taught in schools and used by the media. The project is recording and documenting languages that face the prospect of dying out, with the goal of preserving their poems, chants, stories, and anything else that can be recorded

December 14, 2009 by Lin Edwards


About caspar

Caspar is just one monkey among billions. Battering his keyboard without expectations even of peanuts, let alone of aping the Immortal Bard. By day he is an infantologist at Birkbeck Babylab, by night he runs BabyLaughter.net
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