Languages are dying, but is the internet to blame?

Languages everywhere are dying; a recent UN report showed that nearly 900 languages have been driven to extinction in the last three years — and that’s despite an increase in the number of languages supported by the internet. But is the lack of language diversity online accelerating language death or simply reflecting what’s happening in the offline world?

There currently around 7,100 languages in use, but 90 percent of these are used by less than 100,000 people. Some are only spoken by the inhabitants of remote villages, while others — such as the Peruvian language Taushiro — are thought to only be spoken by one person.

History suggests that language loss, much like language change, is inevitable. But understanding the cause of this loss is complicated. According to Ethnologue, a catalogue of all the world’s known living languages, 1,519 currently living languages are at risk of death, with a further 915 said to be dying. At the current rate, we’re set to lose six languages every year.

Read more: Wired

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