Monday, October 15, 2007

Language Loss

Today, Columbus Day, as we imagine what the linguistic landscape of the Americas was like prior to massive colonization, it seems of particular importance to share this message from the Center for Endangered Languages at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

The world’s languages are dying out

In the United States, 165 Native American languages are still spoken.

  • 74 almost extinct (handful of elderly speakers) (45%)
  • 58 with fewer than 1,000 speakers (35%)
  • 25 with 1,000-10,000 speakers (15%)
  • 8 with 10,000+ speakers (5%)

The largest Native American language is:

Navajo 148,530 speakers

(just for comparison:)

Danish 194,000 speakers in this country
Tagalog 377,000 speakers in this country
Hungarian 447,497 speakers in this country

In the world, approximately 6,000 languages are spoken...
...of which only about 600 are confidently expected to survive this century.

Interpreters, read more fascinating information on language loss by visiting the Center for Endangered Languages. If you or a colleague speak an indigenous language fluently and are interested in a master's program for contributing to the field of linguistics with regard to an indigenous language, please click here to learn more.

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