Languages dying around the world

May 11th, 2010 by The JetSetter Team | Comments Off on Languages dying around the world

Here’s a side effect the international traveler may not have considered before. Languages are dying. Of approximately 7,000 languages spoken on this planet, 473 are classified as endangered. When the last known speaker of a language dies, the language does as well.

For example…

  • There are four known speakers of Lipon Apache in the U.S.; two speakers of Totoro in Columbia; a single speaker of Bikya in Cameroon.

Why is it happening? In a single word – globalization. The world culture has created a blending and assimilation effect and certain languages such as English and Spanish gain dominance. When smaller, isolated communities begin to interact with the rest of the world find and themselves blending, their heritage falls away in the process.

Though a certain segment of the population screams about the travesty of lost culture, the rest of us realize it is what it is. Neither good nor bad but a natural consequence of people conducting the business of life. Languages have been dying as long as humans have been speaking them. The numbers are a bit startling. 6% of the world’s languages are spoken by 94% of the people. If our math is correct, that leaves 6% of the people to speak 94% of the languages.

What does all this mean to the international traveler? Maybe nothing. Perhaps it has a fleeting impact on you. Perhaps not. But we think it is worth noting the passing of a few of these marvelous tools of communication called language.

The Jetsetter Team

Flickr / The U.S. Army

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