What is an endangered language?
What is language loss?
What is the first step towards language death?
What was the attitude of the majority of linguists in the early twentieth century towards estimating the total number of languages in the world?
What was Ethnologue's 2005 count of languages in its database, excluding duplicates in different countries?
Which continent had the highest percentage of languages in Ethnologue's 2005 count?
What are UNESCO's four levels of language endangerment based on?
What are the three steps that can be taken to stabilize or rescue an endangered language?
What is UNESCO's approach to preventing language extinction?
Language Endangerment: Key Facts and Figures
- An endangered language is at risk of disappearing as its speakers die out or shift to speaking other languages.
- Language loss occurs when the language has no more native speakers and becomes a "dead language".
- The first step towards language death is potential endangerment.
- The majority of linguists in the early twentieth century refrained from making estimates of the total number of languages in the world.
- Estimates vary depending on the extent and means of the research undertaken, and the definition of a distinct language and the current state of knowledge of remote and isolated language communities.
- Ethnologue's 2005 count of languages in its database, excluding duplicates in different countries, was 6,912, of which 32.8% (2,269) were in Asia, and 30.3% (2,092) in Africa.
- Almost all of the study of language endangerment has been with spoken languages.
- UNESCO operates with four levels of language endangerment between "safe" (not endangered) and "extinct" (no living speakers), based on intergenerational transfer.
- Language endangerment affects both the languages themselves and the people that speak them.
- Losing a language may also have political consequences as some countries confer different political statuses or privileges on minority ethnic groups, often defining ethnicity in terms of language.
- Once a language is determined to be endangered, there are three steps that can be taken in order to stabilize or rescue the language: language documentation, language revitalization, and language maintenance.
- UNESCO seeks to prevent language extinction by promoting and supporting the language in education, culture, communication and information, and science.
Test your knowledge on language endangerment with our quiz "Language Endangerment: Key Facts and Figures". Learn about the risks and consequences of endangered languages, the different levels of endangerment, and the steps that can be taken to preserve them. This quiz will help you understand the importance of language diversity and the efforts being made to prevent language extinction.
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