Over half of the world's 7,000 languages are in danger of disappearing.
Transcript of radio broadcast: 01 December 2009
I'm Steve Ember.
And I'm Barbara Klein with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today, we travel far and wide to learn about some of the rarest languages in the world. Experts say over half of the world's seven thousand languages are in danger of disappearing. Every two weeks one language disappears.
As the last speakers of a language die off, the valuable information contained within a language also disappears. Join us as we learn about the cultural value of language and why endangered languages must be protected.
What would happen if you were the only person left who spoke your language? Who would you share stories with, sing songs to, or exchange jokes with? Who would understand your names for local plants, animals and traditions? This is the example David Harrison and Gregory Anderson use to explain the situation of many people around the world whose local languages are disappearing. Mister Harrison and Mister Anderson head Living Tongues, an organization that studies and protects endangered languages.
Sometimes a language disappears immediately when the last person speaking it dies. Or, a local language might disappear more slowly. This happens when an official language is used more often and children stop learning the local language of their parents. This is not a new process. Official languages often represent a form of control over a group of people.
Throughout history, the language spoken by a powerful group spreads across a civilization. The more powerful culture rarely respects the language and culture of smaller ethnic groups. So, smaller cultures lose their local language as the language of the culture in power becomes the stronger influence.
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