Archive for the Category: Endangered languages

Humboldt’s parrot

There’s a story that in 1799 the German naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) was exploring the Orinoco and Amazon rivers and documenting the languages and cultures of the tribes he encountered there. While spending time with one tribe of Carib people, he asked them about their neighbours and rivals, the Maypure, who he […]

Also posted in Language, Language revival 3 Comments

Language Conference

Other the past few days there was a conference at Trinity College Carmarthen entitled Reversing Language Shift: How to Re-awaken a Language Tradition, which was run by the Foundation for Endangered Languages. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to intend myself, but have found an interesting report and multilingual video from it on the BBC News. Here’s […]

Also posted in Language 17 Comments

Endangered Languages and Lost Knowledge

Today I came across a fascinating video entitled Endangered Languages and Lost Knowledge in which Daniel Everett talks about the Pirahã language, among others things. The video is also available here.

Also posted in Language 6 Comments

Cree language challenge

The inhabitants of the Norway House Cree Nation (Kinosao Sipi), a small community in northern Manitoba in Canada, have been challenged by their chief, Marcel Balfour, to become proficient in Cree (kinose’wi si’pi’hk) by the year 2020, according to an article I found the other day. The band’s council have decided to make Cree the […]

Also posted in Language, Language learning 7 Comments


The other day I came across an interesting article on efforts to keep the Romansh language alive. Romansh or Romansch, which you can hear in last week’s language quiz, is a Romance language spoken mainly in the Swiss Canton of Graubuenden (Grischun/Grigione/Grissons) by about 60,000 people. There appears to be mixed views on the language […]

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When is a language extinct?

The recent publication of UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger has generated quite a few new stories and discussion. The Atlas has a list of 2,500 endangered languages ranked according to five different levels: unsafe (607), definitely endangered (632), severely endangered (502), critically endangered (538) and extinct (200). Of these languages, 199 have […]

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Ainu language

An article I came across today talks about the Ainu language in which the author, a Russian linguist, talks of his quest to find Ainu speakers in Hokkaido. He met plenty of Ainu but found only two people able to speak the language. He does find quite a few people who know a few words […]

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Language hotspots

The Enduring Voices Project, which I came across today on the National Geographic website, has the aims of documenting endangered languages and preventing language extinction by identifying the most crucial areas where languages are endangered and embarking on expeditions to: Understand the geographic dimensions of language distribution Determine how linguistic diversity is linked to biodiversity […]

Also posted in Language, Language revival 8 Comments

Urban Irish

According to some of the people I met in Ireland last week, Irish might become a mainly urban language in the future. At the moment the majority of regular Irish speakers live in remote, rural areas, the Gaeltachtaí. These areas are suffering from depopulation because there are few opportunities for young people, who tend to […]

Also posted in Irish, Language, Language revival 1 Comment

Manchu in Beijing

Today I came across an article about efforts to save the Manchu language in China. There are currently around 10 million ethnic Manchus in China, but fewer than 100 of them speak Manchu and they are almost all elderly. Recently a bloke called Wang Shuo, a construction designer in Beijing, started teaching Manchu language classes […]

Also posted in Language 9 Comments
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