One Language Disappears Every 14 Days

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This is astounding news.

One of the world’s 7,000 distinct languages disappears every 14 days, an extinction rate exceeding that of birds, mammals or plants, researchers said Tuesday.

At least 20% of the world’s languages are in imminent danger of becoming extinct as their last speakers die off, compared with about 18% of mammals, 8% of plants and 5% of birds….

Half of the world’s languages have disappeared in the last 500 years, and half of the remainder are likely to vanish during this century…

Fantastic quote from K. David Harrison, the expert on languages that is cited in the article: “When we lose a language, we lose centuries of thinking about time, seasons, sea creatures, reindeer, edible flowers, mathematics, landscapes, myths, music, the unknown and the everyday.” Harrison works at something called the “Institute for Endangered Languages.” Check that out here.

The folks there have identified the areas in the world where the most languages are going extinct, and it turns out one such hotspot is in Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. Click the link for more.

Update: Should have linked this earlier. Here’s Mother Jonesrecent cover story on animal extinction.

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FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and billionaire owners wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands.

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