Study: 25 Percent Of The World’s Languages Face Extinction

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Languages like those spoken by the Inuit people of North America are in danger of dying out as the number of native speakers shrink. (Photo by ANDRE FORGET/AFP/Getty Images)

Languages like those spoken by the Inuit people of North America are in danger of dying out as the number of native speakers shrink. (Photo by ANDRE FORGET/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – One casualty of globalization could be different languages spoken in the far reaches of the world, reports Live Science.

Many languages spoken across the globe are dying out, warns a new study.

“For example, Ainu, a language in Japan, is now seriously threatened, with only 10 native speakers left,” said lead study author Tatsuya Amano with the University of Cambridge in England.

The researchers found that 25 percent of the world’s languages approximately 7,000 languages are threatened.

Languages are most at risk of dying out in developed countries where multiple languages are spoken. Often schools teach the majority language at the expense of others, so children may not learn their native tongue.

“We showed that this is a global phenomenon, which I think is the most important in our findings,” Amano told Live Science.

The study looked at languages that are only spoken in very few places and where the number of people speaking the language was declining rapidly.

Those conditions exist primarily in the tropics, the Himalayas and northwestern North America.

Researchers tried to account for other factors that might lead to language decline.

“We found that at the global scale, language speaker declines are strongly linked to economic growth, that is, declines are particularly occurring in economically developed regions,” Amano said.

The United Nations has warned that half of the world’s languages will disappear by the end of the century unless they are preserved and protected.

“So economically developed countries with many languages, such as the United States and Australia, need immediate attention if their languages are to be conserved,” said Amano.

He told Live Science some part of humanity will be lost if those languages disappear.

“I personally think that the diversity of languages is associated with the diversity of human cultures, which are definitely worth preserving,” Amano said

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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