WASHINGTON - FROM rural Australia to Siberia to the south-western US state of Oklahoma, languages that embody the history and traditions of people are dying, researchers said on Tuesday.
While there are an estimated 7,000 languages spoken around the world today, one of them dies out about every two weeks, according to linguistic experts struggling to save at least some of them.
Five hotspots where languages are most endangered were listed on Tuesday in a briefing by the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages and the That means, if the last speaker of many of these vanished tomorrow, the language would be lost because there is no dictionary, no literature, no text of any kind, he said.
Prof Harrison is associate director of the Living Tongues Institute. He and institute director Gregory D.S. Anderson analszed the top regions for disappearing languages.
Anderson said languages become endangered when a community decides that its language is an impediment. The children may be first to do this, he explained, realising that other more widely spoken languages are more useful.
Prof Harrison said that the 83 most widely spoken languages account for about 80 per cent of the world's population while the 3,500 smallest languages account for just 0.2 per cent of the world's people. Languages are more endangered than plant and animal species, he said.
The hot spots listed at Tuesday's briefing:
- Northern Australia, 153 languages.
- Central South America including Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia, 113 languages.
- North-west Pacific Plateau, including British Columbia in Canada and the states of Washington and Oregon in the US, 54 languages.
- Eastern Siberian Russia, China, Japan, 23 languages.
- Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, 40 languages. -- AP