The TED Blog has a great post on UNESCO’s interactive atlas of the world’s endangered languages released just a few weeks ago. The atlas identifies 6,000 languages around the world – and lists 2,500 of these as endangered and 200 as completely lost.
“…the Atlas states that 199 languages have fewer than ten speakers and 178 others have 10 to 50. Among the languages that have recently become extinct, it mentions Manx (Isle of Man), which died out in 1974 when Ned Maddrell fell forever silent, Aasax (Tanzania), which disappeared in 1976, Ubykh (Turkey) in 1992 with the demise of Tevfik Esenc, and Eyak (Alaska, United States of America), in 2008 with the death of Marie Smith Jones.”
Comments on the TED post make an interesting point that while these languages are disappearing, new ones pop up or evolve to take their place. Visit the atlas here, and watch the Wade Davis’ 2003 TED talk below on cultures at the far edge of the world.
Vodpod videos no longer available.