Every 14 days a language dies.
Updated: Apr 13, 2021
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 favor of English, Mandarin, or Spanish.
It is a huge loss every time a language dies. A language defines a person, a culture. Some of the 7,000 languages in the world today have hundreds of millions of speakers — English, Mandarin, Spanish and Arabic, for example — while others have barely a handful left. UNESCO lists a total of 577 languages as critically endangered. And these dying languages are in every corner of the world — Asia, Africa, North America, Australia and South America.
The death of languages, however, isn’t an overnight phenomenon.
Countries with the greatest linguistic diversity are usually also the ones with the most endangered languages. Communities are continuously switching to politically and economically more powerful languages.
UNESCO has developed a map with different categories of language endangerment to classify how threatened they are and also an interactive atlas of the world’s languages in danger.