Preserving Endangered Languages



Over the last few decades an increasing number of books, scholarly articles and media reports have predicted that as many as 60 to 90% of the world's some 6900 languages may be at risk of extinction within the next 100 years. This article provides an overview of the current state of the world's languages, explains some causes and consequences of the loss of linguistic diversity, in addition to outlining some of the range of efforts currently underway worldwide to preserve endangered languages. We should think about languages in the same way as we do other natural resources that need careful planning: they are vital parts of complex local ecologies that must be supported if global biodiversity is to be sustained.