Sunday, May 8, 2011

Endangered languages: the full list

How many endangered languages are there in the World and what are the chances they will die out completely?

This week the Guardian reported that the last two fluent speakers of the language Ayapaneco aren't speaking to each other.

This poignant story got us thinking about the number of endangered languages in the World.

To get to the bottom of this we turned to United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), who regularly publish a list of endangered languages.

UNESCO provide a classification system to show just how 'in trouble' the language is:

  • Vulnerable - most children speak the language, but it may be restricted to certain domains (e.g., home)
  • Definitely endangered - children no longer learn the language as a 'mother tongue' in the home
  • Severely endangered - language is spoken by grandparents and older generations; while the parent generation may understand it, they do not speak it to children or among themselves
  • Critically endangered - the youngest speakers are grandparents and older, and they speak the language partially and infrequently
  • Extinct - there are no speakers left


    Finally, here is the full list of languages in danger and there is even more detail in the spreadsheet that goes with this post.

    The UNESCO provide an Alas of endangered languages on their website. Do you have a nice idea for displaying this same data?

    Full Endangered Language List


    Evans, Lisa. 2011. "Endangered languages: the full list". Guardian. Posted: April 15, 2011. Available online:
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