Welcome back to another ESL podcast, and today we have some reading! The Death of Languages, something that’s not spoken about, is a problem that’s currently being addressed by a handful of nations to preserve the “language” that’s dying. Here’s the read!
- How many languages do you think are spoken in the world?
- Which parts of the world have the greatest variety of languages?
- What are the five most spoken languages?
Worldwide there are approximately 7,000 languages spoken today. With around seven billion people in the world, this could mean each language is spoken by 100,000 people. However, some languages are used much more than others. Half of the world speaks just a small number of languages, with the top five being Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, English, and Arabic. Together these languages account for just under two billion people in the world. With so many people seaking so few languages, many others are under threat of disappearing. Some estimates suggest that between 50-90% of languages will no longer exist by the year 2100. Can and should something be done to stop the death of these languages?
The distribution of language diversity varies greatly across the world. For example, there are just over 200 languages spoken in europe, but around 2,000 in Asia. Some places have an especially high range of local languages. For example, Papua New Guinea is one of the most linguistically diverse countries in the world, with over 800 languages. The problem occurs when fewer and fewer people speak a language. In North America, for example, there are over 150 languages. However, around half of these are spoken by only a small number of people. In fact, around 25% of the world’s languages are in a similar situation. Some argue that languages are disappearing as fast as many species of animal. Languages, though, unlike animals are no dependent on surviving in a particular environment, so why are so many disappearing?