Economic progress and growing wealth does have a cultural drawback. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, around 25 percent of the world’s languages are threatened. Currently, there are around 7,000 languages spoken across the world.
Some are heading towards extinction even today. Lead study author, Tatsuya Amano at the University of Cambridge singled out one in particular. “For example, Ainu, a language in Japan, is now seriously threatened, with only 10 native speakers left.”
At the UN, experts are warning that half of the world’s spoken languages face disappearing by the end of the century unless something is done. Saving the languages for cultural history is at the forefront of experts rushing to save the more endangered dialects.
The chief reason behind a language’s decline is directly tied to economic growth and progress. A society may see that a mainstream language offers more economic benefit, and teaching shifts towards it. Immigrants wish to assimilate into a new culture is another reason behind the decline in spoken languages.
Outside of economic growth, indigenous languages are often threatened due to the low numbers of people speaking it. If the area sees rapid economic expansion, it just hastens the declines that is already in place. Complex grammar is another reason why less-spoken languages decline and disappear.
Companies such as Rosetta Stone have already unveiled endangered language programs. For now, the program centers on dying Native American languages, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see them start to branch into other indigenous languages.
Nothing can stop the decline in some languages, but like art, we can certainly save the history of the languages for current and future generations.
Read the full study here.
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