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Half of the world's languages will be extinct by the end of this century according to a prediction by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
The organisation warned that over 2,000 of the 7,000 official languages spoken around the world have only 1,000 speakers or fewer. As a consequence, languages spoken in the Amazon rain forest, sub-Saharan Africa, Oceania, Australia and Southeast Asia will disappear.
"Languages are disappearing at an unprecedented pace. And when that happens, a unique vision of the world is lost," said the Endangered Language Project (ELP).
"Of the Native American languages of the US, 90% are not being passed on to a new generation, " ELP said. "While also 90% of Australian aboriginal languages and over 50% of minority languages of Russia are in a similar situation. Most of these languages will cease to be spoken in your lifetime, if language revitalisation programs are not successful."
ELP further cited the case of California to illustrate the rate at which languages are disappearing. "At the time of the Gold Rush (1848), California had about 100 Native American languages. Today only 50 of these survive with speakers, and none is being learned by children in the normal way – the youngest remaining native speakers are well into senior-citizenhood."
ELP warned that the disappearance represents one of the most serious issues faced by humanity today, but also said that the phenomenon is not irreversible as there are some tools that can help prevent the extinction of some languages. In fact, the ELP offers online users the possibility to upload content in the form of text, audio or video files regarding the language they speak.
According to a report by the Washington Post, the are some countries that are more linguistically diverse than others. Africa, north America and southeast Asia are among the areas with more idioms.
Last September, the University of Cambridge released a report warning that due to economic growth, languages are dying out faster than the rate of biodiversity loss.
"As economies develop, one language often comes to dominate a nation's political and educational spheres. People are forced to adopt the dominant language or risk being left out in the cold – economically and politically," the study said.