Thousands of languages will reportedly be extinct by 2100.
A language dies every 14 days and among the recent casualties is a South African tongue.
According to UNESCO, the language was already on its critically endangered list. It got there because parents no longer teach it to their children and no longer employ it for everyday use.
Extinction is defined by both a dwindling numbers of speakers and their ages. If it’s only known by a handful of elderly people a language is considered critically endangered or nearly extinct.
Experts attribute the loss to globalization, colonization and shifts in power.
Linguists are actively documenting those languages with the highest risk level, using audio and visual recordings and written records.
Professor Keren Rice says, “There are ways to recover, say tomato seeds, but language is an oral medium . . . it is gone if direct speakers are dead and nothing has been done to document it.”
Google along with other organizations is joining the fight to keep these languages alive by establishing the Endangered Languages Project.
People are invited to post audio and video records and written documents of at-risk languages as well as access information about the vanishing 40 percent.