Lists of endangered languages

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Language Endangerment Status
Dorothy Pentreath, the last fluent native speaker of Cornish
Extinct (EX)

Other categories

Related topics

UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger category
UNESCO Atlas of the World’s
Languages in Danger categories

Lists of endangered languages are mainly based on the definitions used by UNESCO. In order to be listed, a language must be classified as "endangered" in a cited academic source. Researchers have concluded that in less than one hundred years, almost half of the languages known today will be lost forever.[1] The lists are organized by region.




North America[edit]

Central and South America[edit]



SIL Ethnologue (2005) lists 473 out of 6,909 living languages inventorized (6.8%) as "nearly extinct", indicating cases where "only a few elderly speakers are still living"; this figure dropped to 6.1% as of 2013.[2][3]

When judging whether or not a language is endangered, the number of speakers is less important than their age distribution. There are languages in Indonesia reported with as many as two million native speakers alive now, but all of advancing age, with little or no transmission to the young. On the other hand, while there are only 30,000 Ladin speakers left, almost all children still learn it as their mother tongue; thus Ladin is not currently endangered. Similarly, the Hawaiian language has only about 1,000 speakers, but it has stabilized at this number, and there is now school instruction in the language, from preschool through the 12th grade; thus the language is classified as merely vulnerable.

While there are somewhere around six or seven thousand languages on Earth today, about half of them have fewer than about 3,000 speakers. Experts predict that even in a conservative scenario, about half of today's languages will become extinct within the next 50 to 100 years.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilford, John Noble (2007-09-19). "Languages Die, but Not Their Last Words". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
  2. ^ Lewis, M. Paul; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D. Fennig, eds. (2013). Ethnologue: Languages of the World (Seventeenth ed.). Dallas, Texas: SIL International.
  3. ^ Lewis, M. Paul; Simons, Gary F.; Fennig, Charles D. Fennig, eds. (2013). Ethnologue: Languages of the World (Sumnmary by language status) (Online version of Seventeenth ed.). Dallas, Texas: SIL International.

External links[edit]