EPRS Admin By / September 25, 2019

Degrees of language endangerment

Degrees of language endangerment

Degrees of language endangerment

Between 6 000 and 7 000 languages are spoken in the world today. Giving a precise figure is impossible, since the borderline between a language and a dialect is not well defined. Strikingly, 97 % of the world’s population speaks about 4 % of the world’s languages, while only about 3 % speaks the roughly 96 % of remaining languages. Half of the world’s 7.7 billion inhabitants share just six native languages. Some 3 % of the world’s languages (255) belong to Europe. The highest number of living languages – 2 165 – is found in Asia.
Unless current trends change, some 90 % of all languages spoken today may be replaced by other dominant ones by the end of the century. The Unesco Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger reveals that 40 % of languages spoken in the world are endangered (see Figure 1). Worryingly, at least 2 000 of the world’s endangered languages have under 1 000 speakers, and 4 % have disappeared in the past 70 years.


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