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p. 1199. Endangered languageslocked

  • John C. Maher


By the end of the 21st century, half the languages spoken in the world today may have disappeared. Fewer than 10,000 people speak 52 per cent of languages. Many language communities have approached the point of no return: 133 languages are spoken by fewer than ten people. ‘Endangered languages’ considers some of the reasons for language shift and decline, including xenophobia and nationalism, but the most drastic impact on the vitality of a language is genocide. Once lost, a language is hard to restore, but there are ways to revitalize languages. Community vitality is important for linguistic minorities to survive and a writing system can also support and revitalize an endangered language.

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