The following blog post over the National Geographic Project Vanishing Voices has been written by Aneta Quraishy, Senior Project Manager Language Rich Europe.
I just came across National Geographic project called Vanishing Voices. Did you know that one language dies every 14 days? By the next century nearly half of the roughly 7,000 languages spoken on Earth will likely disappear, as communities abandon native tongues in favour of English, Mandarin, or Spanish. What is lost when a language goes silent? In the words of Russ Rymer:
“The ongoing collapse of the world’s biodiversity is more than just an apt metaphor for the crisis of language extinction. The disappearance of a language deprives us of knowledge no less valuable than some future miracle drug that may be lost when a species goes extinct. Small languages, more than large ones, provide keys to unlock the secrets of nature, because their speakers tend to live in proximity to the animals and plants around them, and their talk reflects the distinctions they observe. When small communities abandon their languages and switch to English or Spanish, there is a massive disruption in the transfer of traditional knowledge across generations—about medicinal plants, food cultivation, irrigation techniques, navigation systems, seasonal calendars.”
Find out about Tuvan, Euchee, Hupa and Karuk for example via these amazing photographs and quotes on the Vanishing Voices site.