26 Aug 2003

mouthMind your language!
Ninety percent of languages are expected to disappear with the current generation.

Invasive languages are promoted by national governments as a unifying political force or for bureaucracy; or they are essential for work or economic activity, used in television, the radio or movies; or they are fashionable, especially among the young. In poor or remote communities, these newcomers work like an insidious virus, able to sicken the local language quickly and put it on its deathbed within two or three generations.

The present ‘killers’ of languages are English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Swahili, Chinese and Indonesia/Malay,” according to a study written by Margit Waas for the US journal Applied Linguistics Forum.

The most authoritative database on languages – www.ethnologue.com – lists 6809 known languages that are spoken in the world today, of which 357 have fewer than 50 speakers.”

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