“International Mother Language Day” was ratified at the UNESCO General Conference in 1999 at the initiative of Bangladesh and has been celebrated on February 21 every year since 2000. According to UNESCO data, there are currently over 7,000 languages spoken in the world, of which 6,700 are the languages of local peoples, making them the “most threatened” languages in the world.
Under the draft resolution adopted as part of the UN International Year of Indigenous Languages celebrated in 2019, UNESCO calls on states to establish funds and mechanisms for the preservation of indigenous languages.
WHY ARE LANGUAGES DISAPPEARING?
According to UNESCO, although the indigenous population makes up a small part of the country’s population, these communities are the largest part of the cultural and linguistic diversity. The disappearance of languages, on the other hand, could mean the irrevocable loss of cosmopolitanism and the common heritage of humanity.
According to the UN, the loss of linguistic diversity affects everything from biological life to cultural life.
THE WORLD ATLAS OF LANGUAGES IN DANGER
Languages that have not been spoken by anyone since 1950 are considered “extinct” languages, according to the UNESCO World Atlas of Endangered Languages.
Languages that are not spoken very often, with grandparents or older people being the latest speakers, are considered “critically endangered”. Languages spoken by these age groups but not passed on to future generations are described as “severely threatened”.
Languages that are no longer spoken by children as mother tongues are classified as “definitely under threat”, while languages spoken by children but not spoken everywhere are also classified as “vulnerable”.
For a language to be considered “safe”, it must be spoken by all generations without any restrictions on the language. According to this classification, 4 percent of the languages spoken to date are attributed as “extinct”.
10 percent of languages spoken today are classified as “critically endangered”, 9 percent “severely endangered”, 11 percent “definitely threatened”, and 10 percent “vulnerable”. UNESCO is concerned that these languages may disappear by the end of this century.