There are nearly 7,000 languages spoken throughout the world today, the majority of which are predicted to become extinct by the end of this century. Half the world’s population speaks the top 20 world languages – with Mandarin, Spanish and English leading the charge, in that order – and most linguists point to globalization as the main cause for the rapid pace languages are falling off the map.
The problem is, when a language dies so does much of the knowledge and traditions that were passed won using it. So when Mental Floss used data from the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity to post a list of several at-risk languages, we here at Gadling were saddened by the disappearing native tongues and decided to use data from the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity to highlight some in our own list.
Irish Gaelic: Despite the fact that the government requires Irish students to learn this language and it currently has an estimated 40,000 native speakers, it is still classified as vulnerable.
Rapa Nui: The mother tongue of Chile’s famous Easter Island has fewer than 4,000 native speakers, and is quickly being taken over by Spanish.
Seneca: Only approximately 100 people in three Native American reservation communities in the United States speak this language, with the youngest speaker in his 50s.Yaw: Most young people living in the Gangaw District of Burma understand but do not speak this critically endangered language that has less than 10,000 native speakers.
Kariyarra: Although there are many people who have a passive understanding of this aboriginal language, only two fluent Kariyarra speakers are left in Western Australia.
Francoprovençal: There are only about 130,000 native speakers of this language, mostly in secluded towns in east-central France, western Switzerland and the Italian Aosta Valley.
Yagan: This indigenous language of Chile purportedly has only one remaining native speaker. Others are familiar with the language, but it will likely disappear soon.
Patuá: Derived from Malay, Sinhalese, Cantonese and Portuguese, less than 50 people in Macau, China and their diaspora speak this language. It is now the object of folkloric interest amongst those who still speak it.