Half the World's Languages Will Vanish by 2100

More than 2400 tongues at risk of extinction, as last speakers die out
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2009 11:11 AM CDT
Gaelic signs, like this welcoming Céad Mile Fáilte, are all over Ireland, but though the traditional Irish language is doing better than many minority tongues, it's still fighting to survive.   (©bigpresh)
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(Newser) – Globalization has many benefits, but the preservation of the world's languages is decidedly not among them. Ever since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago, smaller tribes have assimilated into bigger ones and seen their native tongues lost, and the process has been speeding up, reports the Washington Post. Of the world's 7,000 languages, more than 2,400 are considered at risk of extinction by UNESCO.

And even more could be extinct—marked by the death of its last primary speaker—by the end of the century, as the spread of English, Spanish, and Russian continues to wipe out native tongues of small indigenous groups. The United States alone has lost 53 languages since the 1950s.