Languages are not just a group of words and symbols; they are keys to the cultural past of societies. Languages are repositories of centuries of human experiences, evolution, thoughts, emotions, and more. But when a language is lost, a door is closed on humankind.
According to a study published by the Australian National University, 1,500 languages could die out by 2100. This number means that around half are currently endangered.
Professor Lindell Bromham stated that “We found that without immediate intervention, language loss could triple in the next 40 years. And by the end of this century, 1,500 languages could cease to be spoken,”
Common sense stressed the idea that these mother languages are under pressure due to the invasion of technology that paved the way for English and other dominant languages.
Wait! schools are the main cause of language extinction. But how? The results of the study showed that more years of schooling increase the level of language endangerment in some countries, especially in the under-developed or developing countries.
The researchers urged to build of curriculums that support bilingual education and promote both indigenous language proficiency as well as the use of regionally-dominant languages.
Bromham added that “We found that the more roads there are, connecting country to city, and villages to towns, the higher the risk of languages being endangered. It’s as if roads are helping dominant languages ‘steam roll’ over other smaller languages.”
One reason among others that leads to language extinction is the negative impact of the colonial legacy. The researchers noted that indigenous languages in Australia were pushed towards extinction due to brutal colonial policies.
Africa, for instance, is the land of languages and the most linguistically diverse continent in the world in which indigenous people speak approximately 2,000 different languages.
But According to a UNESCO study of endangered languages, Africa experiences a high risk of language loss and extinction. More than 300 languages have less than 10,000 speakers, a fact that renders them, according to the UN, endangered.
The study’s findings are a vital reminder that more action is urgently needed to preserve at-risk languages.