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  • Writer's pictureStefanos Karampalis

Most Endangered Languages

Updated: Apr 30, 2022

Endangered is a word we usually relate to animal species, but some languages, too, are dying very fast. There are over 6000 languages used in the world today, but many are at risk of becoming extinct and forgotten. A recent study has warned us that if language decline continues as it has been, half of the world’s languages may be wiped off the map by the end of this century.

The number of endangered languages in the world is increasing very fast with an alarming amount of languages becoming rare every year. But organizations like UNESCO and a worldwide network of linguistic volunteers are working very hard against the clock to save some of the world’s most endangered languages.

1. Resigaro

It is used in Amazon with native to Peru. It has now only one surviving speaker. After the last surviving female speaker was murdered in 2016, her brother was left alone as the last speaker of the language. Resígaro is possibly the most endangered language on the planet, with only one speaker left. Pablo Andrade, its lone speaker, has been undertaking a project to try and document the language since 2016.

2. Wiradjuri

Sadly, Wiradjuri is one of Australia's original 40 indigenous languages that remain. It is spoken in the south-western part of New South Wales. There were only 30 speakers left till 2018. The publication of a Wiradjuri dictionary has become the source of a revival, with the language being used in schools in a growing number of areas.

3. Ngan’gikurunggurr

A 2016 census found 26 surviving speakers of the Indigenous Australian language Ngan’gikurunggurr, showing it is likely to go extinct imminently. Researchers also believe there may be 200 remaining speakers. It is due to a great deal of research being done on the language.

4. Ainu

With fewer than 15 speakers left, all of whom are elderly, the Japanese language of Ainu is marked as critically endangered. Thankfully, there are many efforts underway to revive it and although it is still in danger of going extinct, it may not be too late to preserve this language for future generations.

5. Krymchak

Also spelled Krimchak and known as Judeo-Crimean Tatar, this language is used by people in Crimea, a peninsula of Ukraine. It is shown that people born during or before the 1930s have retained fluency in this language, leaving an estimated 200 native speakers alive when the research was done in 2007.

6. Chulym

It is the language of the Chulym Tatars, Turkic people in the Tomsk Oblast and Krasnoyarsk Krai in Russia. There were only 44 remaining speakers of the language according to census figures in 2010. They are called Öс, the youngest speaker being 54 at that time. It is estimated that the language will be extinct by 2030.

7. Yuchi

While some endangered languages are related to less vulnerable languages, Yuchi is quite different. The Native American language had only 4 speakers in 2013, but there are attempts to save it and it is being recorded on video to achieve this target.


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