By Dr Mark Turin, director of the World Oral Literature Project, Cambridge University:
While scholars around the globe are attempting to document and preserve the diversity of human linguistic expressions, including here at Cambridge, more than 2,400 of these speech forms are endangered and will likely vanish without trace by the end of this century.
A sobering statistic: the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger released by UNESCO in early 2009 claims that more than 2,400 of the over 6,500 languages spoken around the globe today are in danger of disappearing. These vanishing voices, more than a third of the world’s total living languages, can be ranked on a sliding scale from vulnerable to extinct. Many will cease to be used as communicative vernaculars in the next generation of speakers ... [read more here]