Dec 31, 2009


There are an estimated 6,500 languages in the world and half or more of them could cease to exist by 2100.

Languages are dying out around the globe through globalization, social change, and a shift in populations from rural areas to cities. Of the 6,500 languages estimated to be still in use, only 11 are spoken by half the world's population, and 95 percent of the languages are spoken by less than five percent of the global population.

A new project, the World Oral Literature Project, by the University of Cambridge's Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, aims to preserve the linguistic diversity being lost. The project is recording and documenting languages that face the prospect of dying out, with the goal of preserving their poems, chants, stories, and anything else that can be recorded. This is somewhat like the Rosetta Stone Project, which began about ten years ago and that has documented 2,500 languages for the same purpose.

The language used by most people is Chinese Mandarin, followed by English and Spanish. The language spoken by most countries is English, followed by French, then Spanish.

1.5  billion people speak Chinese, 1 billion plus speak English, and about 500 million speak Spanish. English is spoken in more countries than any other language.

English is a West Germanic language that developed in England during the Anglo-Saxon era. It has become common as a result of the military, economic, scientific, political, and cultural influence of the British Empire during the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, and of the United States since the mid 20th century. All y'all listen up?