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Endangered languages

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on 15 January 2014

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Transcript of Endangered languages

What does language extinction mean for a community and for the rest of us?
Language loss
Dead language:

It occurs when the language has no more native speakers.

Extinct language:

It occurs if eventually no one speaks the language at all.

Is language extinction sudden or gradual?
Both. Some examples:

Some Yupik Eskimo communities in Alaska, where just 20 years ago all of the children spoke Yupik; today the youngest speakers of Yupik in some of these communities are in their 20s, and the children speak only English.
Scots Gaelic was spoken on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, until the 1940s, but by the 1970s the language was no longer being learned by children.
What is an endangered language?
It is a language that is at risk of falling out of use as its speakers die out or shift to speaking another language.

Many languages are being replaced by others that are more widely used such as English in the U.S. or Spanish in Mexico.
Endangered languages
Processes of globalization and neo-colonialism.
When a community finds itself under pressure to integrate with a larger or more powerful group. This has happened in Greenland, a territory of Denmark, where Kalaallisut is learned alongside Danish.
Often the community is pressured to give up its language and even its ethnic and cultural identity. This has been the case for the ethnic Kurds in Turkey and younger speakers of Native American languages.
How many languages are endangered?
The total number of languages in the world is not known. The general consensus is that there are between 6000 and 7000 languages currently spoken, and that between 50-90% of those will have become extinct by the year 2100.
By some estimates, 90% of the world's languages may vanish within the next century.
When a community loses its language, it often loses a great deal of its cultural identity at the same time. Although language loss may be voluntary or involuntary, it always involves pressure of some kind, and it is often felt as a loss of social identity or as a symbol of defeat.
A people's history is passed down through its language, so when the language disappears, it may take with it important information about the early history of the community.
More than 50% of the world's languages are located in just eight countries (denoted in red on the map): India, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, and Cameroon. In these countries and around them are the areas that are the most linguistically diverse in the world (denoted in blue on the map).
Ancient Greek and Latin are considered dead o extinct languages?
These languages are considered dead because they are no longer spoken in the form in which we find them in ancient writings. But they weren't abruptly replaced by other languages; instead, Ancient Greek slowly evolved into modern Greek, and Latin slowly evolved into modern Italian, Spanish, French, Romanian, and other languages.
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