At present, there are nearly 7,000 languages being spoken worldwide. However, due to ageing populations and globalization's English-only emphasis, a language dies out every 14 days. At this rate, nearly half the world's languages will vanish in 100 years. Very often, these languages are lost without any record: no clues about pronunciation, let alone grammar or vocabulary.
Now, new digital speaking dictionaries may be the key to saving thousands of languages from extinction. The Living Tongues project presented eight new dictionaries at a conference last week.
Margaret Noori is director of the comprehensive studies program and lecturer in the Native American Studies Program at the University of Michigan.
Gregory D. S. Anderson is director of Living Tongues, which unveiled eight dictionaries of languages that are currently facing extinction last week.