Some of the casualties of globalization and rampant cultural hegemony that has defined the world have been regional languages, many of which were not written down and survived for generations upon generations via oral transmission. Many of these languages have already been lost to the world, but there are many others that are classified as “endangered”, meaning that the only speakers remaining are an old generation and none of the other residents of the area are learning them.
A decent list of Endangered languages is provided by Ethnologue, the Christian organization whose purpose is to gather information on small languages:
UNESCO has also published a map of the locations of endangered languages:
The reasons for maintaining these languages active and alive are obvious to those of us who consider ourselves language lover. I, personally, believe that language has such an astonishing cause-and-effect relationship with the human mind and behavior that people who are much smarter than me (who are not endangered int his world…) can study the various aspects of that human mystery.
Additionally, this issue provokes tremendous sadness and despair in me, since it reflects how entire cultures and unique ideas are disappearing with the passing of time. The idea is not to get too sappy, but there is a profound sense of loss to realize that a “people” is lost to this world. So, just as I did last week to save certain English words, let’s do what we can to save the languages on this list. Express your interest in the comments and I will assign you to a geographic region and we can hash out the details from there.