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Nearly 40% of the World’s Languages Are Endangered

Photo Courtesy of mentalfloss.com

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Parlez vous Francais? Yo hablo Espanol? Sprechen sie Duetsche? No? While 275 million number of people worldwide speak French, 437 million number of people speak Spanish, and 175-220 number of people speak German, no one speaks the approximately over 600 number of languages have been identified as “extinct.”

If a language has under about 20,000 speakers it is considered to be endangered according to quora.com Although no exact number is known, experts estimate the number of languages on Earth  is around the low 7,000’s according to daytranslations.com Around more than 10,000 languages have existed at one time according to quora.com

Many languages are critically endangered; a few endangered languages have their origins in Africa such as Boor, Mlomp, and Shabo, according to theguardian.com  The Boor language is native to Chad, Mlomp is native to Senegal, and Shabo is native to Ethiopia

“There are a few ways for languages to die. The first and most obvious, is if all the people who speak it have died. This may occur, for example, if war or a natural disaster wipes out small populations or tribes in remote areas… Another killer of language is foreign disease,” according to mnn.com

Even as some languages become extinct, others are created most commonly  for international use. One example is Esperanto, which was created hundred of years ago. Esperanto was created for international use so people from different countries could communicate better. A common Esperanto phrase is “Ne dankinde” meaning you’re welcome or “Dankon” meaning thank you  according to esperanto.org

Many languages have also been used for top secret purposes. “The Navajo language, often numbered among the most difficult to learn, is perhaps best known for its role in World War II. An elite group of Navajo men was recruited to serve in the U.S. Marines and help develop a wartime code based on Navajo, then only an oral language. That code proved unbreakable, helping the Allied Forces win the war,” according to indiancountrymedianetwork.com

“I think anyone would be amazed to know there are over 7,000 languages in the world right now! However, many of these languages are spoken by very few people in remote places on the planet, and they are going extinct quickly. It is estimated that one language dies every two weeks or so,” said Clara Harshley, an editor for linguistlist.org, in an interview with the Matador Messenger.

Linguist.org is an organization in which linguists, people who study languages, track and preserve endangered and extinct languages. Linguists often study in other fields such as computer science and psychology.

Harshley has plans of to use her knowledge of linguistics in her future career. “After I graduate, I will work as a computer scientist for the US Navy, helping teach computers how to interact with users.”

Although many people do not realize it, there are many careers in languages such as studying language and the brain, teaching language classes, translating for hospitals or other business, or using language to solve crime. Using languages to solve a crime is known as Forensic Linguistics and can be used to interviews suspects and witnesses more effectively, solve a crime more reliably, and communicate with greater accuracy according to lama.hypotheses.org   

“Linguists are working hard to document these languages before they go extinct. Some linguists even help the speakers of these endangered languages preserve their language, and teach it to the next generation, so it has a better chance of surviving,” said Clara Harshley in an interview with the Matador Messenger

If you would like to see a list of 573 extinct languages or if you would like to support the Linguist List in donating to their 2018 fund drive, check out this link at linguistlist.org Or if you would like to look at any place in the world and learn what languages are spoken there, visit this link at landscape.umd

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Nearly 40% of the World’s Languages Are Endangered