3,000 languages ‘nearing extinction’

The UNESCO warns against the alarming rate at which languages have become extinct in recent years

MANILA, Philippines – Are you teaching your kids your native dialect? 

In commemoration of International Mother Language Day (February 21), The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) warned against the alarming rate at which languages have become extinct in recent years.

As the world moves towards greater integration, learning the native tongue has taken the backseat from English and other global languages. 

The unfortunate consequence of this is that a language disappears on average every two weeks, according to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). 

Among the 6,000 spoken languages and dialects of the world, 50 per cent are at risk of dying out, along with the cultural and intellectual heritage that are associated with these, the UNESCO says.

For example, the Bashkarik dialect, spoken by only 40, 000 people in Pakistan is considered to be an “endangered” language. Although there are enough people to keep the language alive, it is threatened due to the use of other more widespread languages that majority of the Pakistan youth uses.

In the Philippines, the Arta dialect, which had been in use in the Northern Luzon region until the late 1980s, is now considered to be “extinct”.

The Philippines has about 175 listed languages and dialects. Of these, only 171 are considered “living languages” while 4 no longer have known speakers.  

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova stresses that multilingualism should be considered “an ally in ensuring quality education for all, in promoting inclusion and in combating discrimination.” 

Bokova adds, “Building genuine dialogue must start with respect for languages. […] Linguistic diversity is our common heritage, and it is fragile. […] Multilingualism is a living resource – let us use it for the benefit of all”. – Rappler.com

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