1:00 AM 3rd February 2024
5 Endangered Languages You Can Help Revive In 2024
Image by ❤ Monika 💚 💚 Schröder ❤ from Pixabay
Languages face endangerment when a significant number of their native speakers decline, eventually fading away when no native speakers remain. This shift can occur when native speakers gravitate towards another language, often due to various economic and social factors.
The decline of languages poses a significant loss for countries worldwide, erasing their diverse histories. Considering this, the team at Preply
have highlighted some endangered languages for language enthusiasts to explore in 2024.
According to our Endangered Languages Report,
the language of Welsh is vulnerable - with only 562,000 speakers remaining. It’s been suggested that the language was under threat due to many young people choosing to move away for work, to locations where they would predominantly be speaking English.
Additionally, a large number of older English speakers were consistently moving to Wales, without the interest of learning the native language.
Opting to learn the poetic language of Cymraeg (Welsh) would not only veer it away from extinction, but also allow you to connect with the locals if you ever took a trip to the Valleys.
With only 57,000 speakers remaining, Gaelic falls into the endangered language category. Typically spoken in Scotland and Ireland, the word is most commonly used as an umbrella term for Scottish Gaelic, Manx and Irish - with Manx being the most endangered of the group.
The last native Manx speaker reportedly died in 1974, leaving the language partially extinct - propped up only by preservation efforts. When it came to Scottish Gaelic, the ‘Education Scotland Act’ of 1972 - an act that allowed local authorities to decide what was being taught in schools - pushed Gaelic out of the syllabus, rendering it at risk.
Despite being renowned as a difficult language to learn, there is no doubt that adding Gaelic to your CV would look anything short of impressive.
Next up is the critically endangered tongue of Gawar-Bati. It is an Indo-Aryan language - part of the Indo-European language family - also sometimes referred to as Narsati, and is spoken by only 9,000 people today.
Mainly spoken in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the language can, interestingly, be written with the Arabic alphabet - allowing you to indulge in not just one language learning experience, but two. Despite this, the language of Gawar-Bati itself is rarely written or studied, leaving very little room for revitalisation.
Iñupiaq, an Inuit language primarily spoken in Alaska and Canada’s Northwest Territories, is a critically endangered tongue - with only 2,000 speakers left. There are many different reasons for this, but the main cause, arguably, was the U.S. and Canada pushing for English fluency in schools throughout the 1900s. Thankfully, though, there are people striving for its revitalisation.
In 2017, a graduate of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Chelsey Qaġġun Zibell, started a free website to help people learn the Native Alaskan language, and there are now many platforms offering a similar experience. So, why not say, “Nänjit dähònche?”, (hello, how are you?) to Iñupiaq in 2024?
Many people will have heard of the Cornish language, but few may know that only around 557 native speakers are still here to this day. However, despite this worrying statistic, the language is actually ‘awakening’ - a term that refers to a previously endangered language that is starting to garner popularity once again.
Things took a turn for the worse for the Cornish language way back in 1549, when England’s Act of Uniformity essentially outlawed prayer in any other language but English, under the rule of Edward VI. However, as a language that was declared fully extinct at the end of the 18th century, it is safe to say that Cornish is in its comeback era.