Languages are means to know, store and understand the history, culture and traditions of a sect, region and a country. But unfortunately, with time some of these languages are dying because of the technological transition that the world is undergoing. UNESCO estimates that by the year 2100, more than half of the 6700 languages in the world might extinct. As per the research done by the Living Institute for Endangered languages, a language is lost every two weeks. Here are 10 languages heading towards extinction:-
- Aboriginal languages
Aboriginal languages spoken by the aboriginal tribes situated in Northern Australia are currently endangered. As per the survey conducted by Australian Department of Aboriginal affairs there were around 250 different indigenous languages that were present in Australia and nearby regions during 1700s when white settlers arrived on the mainland. But now at present, more than half of those languages are no longer spoken. For these 250 languages, total of 50,000 people still speak them. Magati Ke with just three surviving speakers and Amurdag with only single speaker are the languages that are on the verge of extinction.
Spoken in certain regions of Canada and with 6000 fluent speakers, Oji-Cree borrows from a variety of local and indigenous tongues. Originating from the Ojibwe language, it is currently in the ‘Vulnerable’ list of United Nations and hence, has a slight chance of surviving extinction. At present Oji-cree is spoken by 10,500 native citizens.
After the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, there were many other expeditions that led to the expansion of Spanish and Portuguese in the mainland. Slowly and steadily the dominant languages after expansion that is Spanish and Portuguese flourished while the native languages of Central South America declined. It is near the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, the Kallawaya have been living since the times of Incan Empire. The tribe has maintained its very own secret languages which is a knowledge bank and stores information on thousands of medicinal plants. Kallawaya language has been passed from one generation to the other but at present fewer than 100 speakers exist of this ancient speech.
You might be in confusion or debate whether Yiddish can be stated as a dying language, but with near to 3 million native speakers of the language, United Nations has put it under the endangered list of languages heading towards extinction. It came into existence during the 9th century and is the language of the Ashkenazi Jews. The community took over a new set of vocabulary from the German speakers living at the time in Central Europe. The main contributors for the decline of Yiddish speakers can be attributed to two events. First is the adoption of Hebrew as the official language of Israel and the killing of millions of Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust. But few words like ‘Glitch’ have entered the English dictionary by luck. Modern Language Associations states the Yiddish speakers to be around 200,000.
iTaukei is one of the two main languages of Fiji and is taught in the primary schools but its use is in decline. Not much used in written form, it is said that the language can get extinct if like languages Hindi and English it is not officially taught in written form. It is estimated that if not taken care of then the language might meet its end in not less than two decade. As per current Fijian census, iTaukei speakers are around 330,000.
One of those languages that is highly difficult to be identified with any other, Yuchi was spoke regularly amongst the tribe’s members until the early 20th century. The main cause of concern for the language was the time when American Indian students were punished for speaking languages other than English in Government boarding schools. This ultimately led to its near extinction. At present during 2005, only 5 elders from the tribe were capable enough to speak Yuchi fluently.
It was the language spoken by the nomadic hunters who lived in Chile but by 2011, the language declined substantially and now only a handful of people or villagers in Argentina speak it. Languages like Spanish and Portuguese took over in South America, Tehuelche dwindled down rapidly. The younger generations now only know a bit of the vocabulary but are not at all fluent in conversation. Linguists around the world have made efforts to preserve the language and keep records of it as it was used originally, so that at the appropriate time, Tehuelche can be introduced back into the community and the language can still exist for years to come. Currently out of 50 or so natives, 1 person is capable of speaking the language fluently.
The Indian economy is growing rapidly with growth in development and prosperity; people in India are now venturing into the service and IT sector and thus are more interested in software languages. Most of the software firms have Indians working for them and because of the lack of preservation of the languages, Meithei- an Indian language is under dire threat. With over a million speakers, this language is ranked in the category of ‘Vulnerable’ in the United Nations Official language list. For emphasizing its preservation, Meithei has been made the official language of the government of the state of Manipur. Whether it has been of any help has still to be measured, but it surely is a commendable effort for preserving an ancient tribal language. As per Indian census, currently there are around 1.5 million native speakers.
- Mednyj Aleut
You might have known that most of the languages originate out from a single parent language and are modulated and improvised as per to create a newer one, but Mednyj Aleut or Copper Island Aleut is a different kind. With the language originating from two parent languages which includes a Russian parent and one Aleut, this language has seen many a transformation during its tenure. At present the form of Mednyj Aleut spoken is similar to Aleut but mixed with a bit of Russian words and verbs that have Russian endings. But the fact that makes it heading towards extinction is the presence of only 5 speakers of this language.
Ayapaneco was on the verge of extinction, moreover because it was spoken in just one Mexican village and only 2 people who spoke the language existed during the latter half of 20th century. But the twist in the plot was the fact that these two people who spoke the language stopped talking to each other. And if continued, the language would have met a terrible fate with its end but linguistic anthropologist Professor James fox and mobile manufacturer Vodafone helped Manuel Segovia and Isidro Velazquez to settle their dispute and teach the language together to the upcoming generation. Thus, at present a new school is being built and a dictionary too and with time hopefully, Ayapaneco might survive its so called extinction.