Can you guess how many languages there are in the world?
d. over 6,900
If you guessed d., you’re right. World linguists estimate there are close to 7,000 languages spoken across the globe. However, approximately half of these tongues could become extinct by the next century.
There are many reasons that a language dies out. Migration, globalization, and internet contact all move people out of their original locations, through either physical movement or communication. Extinction also comes about through social and political oppression and injustice.
Should we care if another language dies? What does it mean to speakers of Chinese, English, or Spanish (the world’s three largest languages)? Perhaps to them, the death of a small, “obscure” language is no big deal.
However, there are stories and knowledge wrapped up in the languages of all humans. And when we lose that, we lose the insights of one more lens on life.
The Endangered Languages Project is looking to document as many languages as possible so that these cultures’ traditions and experiences are not lost forever. This project has created a website for people to find and share comprehensive information about the over 3,000 endangered languages of the world.
Here is a short video of the Endangered Languages Project.