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Klaus Esterluß | Marvel with us

Globalisation is cutting the tongue – the high-speed extinction of spoken languages

sign language

sign language – CC BY-SA 2.0 by Valerie Everett via

What do you think, how many languages are spoken worldwide? The sheer number is incredible – 7000 different tongues can be heard all around the world, our #numberoftheweek. Due to our more and more globalized world a lot of these languages are on the brink of extinction.

Thankfully, Tatsuya Amano, a zoologist at the University of Cambridge (UK), and his colleagues have set up a database to document the languages of the world. The database is called Ethnologue and it provides the number and location of surviving fluent speakers – and is the first one to do this on a global scale.

One of the main reasons for a cut in tongues is said to be economic growth. As ZMEScience writes, “young natives flee to burgeoning urban centers to find jobs, the tongues of their ancestors die with the little remaining old populations that still choose to live in their homelands and retain their ancient customs.”

Every two weeks a languages dies with it’s last speaker. And the situation is comparable all around the world. About one quarter of all languages has fewer than 1000 remaining speakers, the ZMEScience states. Linguists think that about 3000 of the almost 7000 languages listed in the Ethnologue archive will become extinct within the next century.


September 3, 2014



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