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Blackwing Offline
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New Atlas Shows Dying Languages Around the World. - February 20th 2009, 04:39 PM

http://abcnews.go.com/International/...ory?id=6916673


Only one native speaker of Livonian remains on Earth, in Latvia. The Alaskan language Eyak went extinct last year when its last surviving speaker passed away.


Those are just two of the nearly 2,500 languages that UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, says are in danger of becoming extinct or have recently disappeared. That's out of a total of 6,000 world languages.

In a presentation Thursday of a new world atlas of endangered languages, linguists stressed the list is not restricted to small or far-flung countries. They also sought to encourage immigrants to treasure their native languages.

"Language endangerment is a universal phenomenon," said Christopher Moseley, an Australian linguist who edited the atlas' third edition, which is to appear in digital and paper versions.


The atlas says 200 languages have become extinct in the last three generations, and another 199 languages have fewer than 10 speakers left.

More than a fourth of the 192 languages once spoken in the United States have disappeared. Another 71 are severely endangered, according to the atlas.

There is Gros Ventre, spoken by fewer than 10 people in north-central Montana. All are elderly, and none is fully fluent. The last fully fluent speaker died in 1981.

Or Menomonee, spoken in northeast Wisconsin, with just 35 speakers left.

The digital version of the atlas invites users to contribute with updates and allows them to search according to country, degree of endangerment, name of languages or by number of speakers.

Type in Russia, and color-coded flags appear ranging from white (unsafe) denoting languages such as Lezgian, spoken in the Caucasus Mountains to red (critically endangered), marking those such as the Tundra Enets, spoken in Arctic islands.

Not all is bleak, however. Some endangered languages, like Latvia's Livonian, are being revived by young people and through poetry.


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Grizabella Offline
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Re: New Atlas Shows Dying Languages Around the World. - February 20th 2009, 07:03 PM

We can't preserve everything. Languages and cultures evolve, and sometimes certain things get left behind.

Oh, and what criteria are they using to determine if a language is dead or not? I noticed they listed Coptic as being dead...and while there aren't any native speakers of Coptic, it is still the official liturgical language of the Coptic Church. There are still many people who can speak, read and write Coptic. So is dead defined as there are no native speakers left?


Not around so much now that school's started

"Live a good life.
If there are gods and they are just,
then they will not care how devout you have been,
but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by.
If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them.
If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life
that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."
Marcus Aurelius

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Re: New Atlas Shows Dying Languages Around the World. - February 21st 2009, 03:59 AM

The more lanaguages that die out the better. Any move towards one global language is to be encouraged.

Oooooh controversial.
   
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eunoia Offline
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Re: New Atlas Shows Dying Languages Around the World. - February 21st 2009, 06:32 AM

Lol Jack.

It would be cool if these languages were preserved somehow, even if they are unnecessary.



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Re: New Atlas Shows Dying Languages Around the World. - February 21st 2009, 06:50 PM

I wish we could preserve languages, because it is interesting to have so many different languages. However, having one language would make world affairs and things easier, but you really need to learn more than one language.


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