Endangered Languages, Endangered Thought

An interesting issue of the UNESCO Courier on disappearing languages:

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With the death of Marie Smith Jones, the Eyak language of Alaska (United States) died out last year; Ubykh (Turkey) vanished in 1992 with the demise of Tevfik Esenç. Some 200 languages have become extinct in the last three generations, according to the new “UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger”.

The Courier’s feature, published in honour of International Mother Language Day (21 February), focuses on this worrying trend. When languages become extinct, not only words disappear, but ways of seeing and describing reality; we lose valuable knowledge and worlds of thought.  Read the editorial



Each language is a unique world of thought

entretien.jpgAustralian linguist Christopher Moseley explains the crucial importance of preserving languages and presents the main innovations of the just-released third edition of the UNESCO “Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger”. More

The monkeys, the scorpion and the snake

mali.jpgStone is petrified speech, water is language laughing, the sown seed, a promised word: every element of reality is an integral part of Toro Tegu, currently spoken by some 5000 Dogons in the north of Mali. More

Seriously speaking : what is Ch’ti?

chti.jpgThe French film “Welcome to the Land of Ch’tis” has been making Europeans laugh recently. But the reality is not so funny: Ch’ti, which is a variation of the Picard language spoken in northern France, has become a social stigma, or at best a quaint museum piece. More

Wuthing we gwen tull?

Pitcairn.jpgThe same language is spoken on the islands of Norfolk and Pitcairn (Pacific), yet it has developed differently in the two places, separated by 3,907 miles. A native Norfolk islander tells the curious story of this language, which came into being in the late 18th century and split into two 70 years later. More

An epidemic is threatening indigenous languages

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Some languages are spoken by very few people but are still very much alive, while others have been preserved by the isolation of their speakers. Marleen Haboud from Ecuador explains these apparently paradoxical phenomena. More

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