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Save the dying languages!?



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Are dying languages worth saving? As many of the world's fringe languages are dying out, this question has been raised more often in recent times.


Source: BBC News Magazine



About 6,000 different languages are spoken around the world. But the Foundation for Endangered Languages estimates that between 500 and 1,000 of those are spoken by only a handful of people. And every year the world loses around 25 mother tongues. That equates to losing 250 languages over a decade - a sad prospect for some.


This week a conference in Carmarthen, west Wales, organized by the foundation, is being attended by about 100 academics. They are discussing indigenous languages in Ireland, China, Australia and Spain.


"Different languages will have their quirks which tell us something about being human," says Nicholas Ostler, the foundation's chairman.


"And when languages are lost most of the knowledge that went with them gets lost. People do care about identity as they want to be different. Nowadays we want access to everything but we don't want to be thought of as no more than people on the other side of the world."


Apart from English, the United Kingdom has a number of other languages. Mr Ostler estimates that half a million people speak Welsh, a few thousand Scots are fluent in Gaelic, about 400 people speak Cornish, while the number of Manx speakers - the language of the Isle of Man - is perhaps as small as 100. But is there any point in learning the really minor languages?


Read more here: BBC News Magazine - Are dying languages worth saving?



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