About 2,500 languages are in danger of becoming extinct according to Unesco,...
…and some of them are spoken by only 30 people. By the turn of the century, it is estimated that at least 50 percent of the world’s current spoken languages will be extinct. Unesco uses a set of five categories to define how endangered a language is:
- Vulnerable, where most children speak the language, but it may be restricted to certain domains such as the home;
- Definitely endangered, where children no longer learn the language as a ”mother tongue” in the home;
- Severely endangered is when a language is spoken by grandparents and older generations, and while the parent generation may understand it, they do not speak it to children or among themselves;
- Critically endangered is when the youngest speakers are grandparents and older, and they speak the language partially and infrequently;
- Extinct – there are no speakers left.
Limburgian Netherlands, Germany – Unknown number of speakers left
Speakers of this language are dispersed between the Netherlands and Germany. It shares many characteristics with German and Dutch, and is often considered a variant of either.
Lombard Italy, Switzerland – 3,500,000 speakers left
Despite being spoken by people in Italy and Switzerland, Lombard is considered a minority language. Given that it is structurally separate from mainstream Italian, younger generations are considerably less likely to speak it, especially in urban areas.
North Frisian Germany – 10,000 speakers left
In 1976, this minority language was spoken by 10,000 people, classing it as ”severely endangered”. A state law recognised it as the official language of North Germany’s Nordfriesland district and Heligoland island in 2004.
North Saami Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia – 30,000
North Saami is part of the Uralic languages family and was first documented in the mid-18th century. It is recognised as an official language in Norway and as a minority one in Finland and Sweden. Speakers can also be found around the Russian borders with Finland and Norway. Only recently, it started being used in writing for administrative purposes.
West Frisian Netherlands – Unknown number of speakers left
This West Germanic language is spoken mostly in the rural north of the Netherlands, and is said to be the most closely related language to English outside of Britain. It has been mandatorily taught at every level of Dutch primary schools since 1980.
For the entire article please go to: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/endangered-languages-dead-listen-speakers-audio-belarusian-wiradjuri-cornish-a8268196.html