An endangered language is a language threatened by the possibility of extinction. A language becomes extinct when a language’s last known speaker dies. The health of a language can be imperiled both voluntarily and involuntary and can happen suddenly or gradually. For example, Scottish Gaelic was spoken in Nova Scotia in the 1940s, but only 30 years later in the 1970s, younger generations stopped learning it, thereby causing its endangerment. Other examples have occurred much more steadily, over centuries.
Often times, when a language ceases to exist the rich identity of those who knew it ceases to exist along with it. Cultural, social, spiritual, and intellectual experiences are often conveyed through language. When a language dies, certain traditions, poetry, prayers, myths, humor, and other important information about the habits and history of a community are lost.
Too many if you ask us! According to UNESCO, there are over two thousand endangered languages. Most linguists believe there to be approximately five thousand languages in the world and some suggest 90% of these five thousand could vanish in the coming century.
You can! Mango Languages is granting free access to our Cherokee, Dzongkha, Scottish Gaelic, Tuvan, and Yiddish language courses. Just click the “Start Learning Now” button above to begin your journey.