abdul at October 1st, 2015
According to the linguist David Crystal (2000), only 600 of the 6,000 or so languages in the world are ‘safe’ from the threat of extinction. According to one count, 6,703 separate languages were spoken in the world in 1996. Of these, 1000 were spoken in the Americas, 2011 in Africa, 225 in Europe, 2165 in Asia, and 1320 in the Pacific, including Australia. These numbers should not be taken at face value, because our information about many languages is lacking or outdated, and very often it is hard to distinguish between languages and dialects. But most linguists agree that there are well over 5,000 languages in the world. A century from now, however, many of these languages may be extinct. Some linguists believe the number may decrease by half; some say the total could fall to mere hundreds as the majority of the world’s languages— most spoken by a few thousand people or less—give way to languages like English, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Indonesian, Arabic, Swahili, and Hindi. By some estimates, 90% of the world’s languages may vanish within the next century.