According to UNESCO there are as many as 2724 endangered languages today. Each and every one of them is unique and represent a different way of seeing the world. Roughly every 2 weeks one of these languages becomes completely extinct. All the stories, memories, knowledge that have been passed on from generation to generation are lost and are highly unlikely to ever find their way back to this world.
Nearly half the population on our planet speaks one of the top 10 languages seen in the graph below. According to National Geographic, the smallest 3524 endangered languages are spoken by less than 10000 people each. In other words, only 0,1 percent of the world’s population speak about half of all the languages alive today.
It is estimated that within the next 100 years, about half of all existing languages on the planet will have vanished. Due to increased globalization, many parents whose native tongue is considered to be an endangered language, encourage their kids to learn languages that dominate world communication and commerce. On the one hand it is understandable that parents want their children to have a prosperous future. However, on the other hand there is a lack of awareness on what precious and unique knowledge is being lost.
The Tuvans for instance believe that the past lies in front and the future behind of them. This makes sense if one becomes familiar with their way of thinking. ”If the future were ahead of you, wouldn’t it be in plain view?”
This is just one amazing example on how a language and its culture have different ways expressing concepts.
Today the internet plays a major role in creating increased awareness in preserving rare languages. Google has recently started ”The Endangered Languages Project” It’s main goal is to create an online collaborative effort consisting of scholars, organizations and concerned individuals to prevent languages around the world from extinction.
Users are able to create an account and upload information, videos, or voice recordings to preserve that knowledge on the web.
For more information concerning this issue you can also visit the UNESCO webpage here.