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How many of the world's languages are endangered?

by the end of the century around 50% of the world's current spoken languages will be extinct, according to UNESCO. Do you know how to say goodbye?

Published 20 Jul 2018, 09:00 BST, Updated 14 Jul 2021, 16:00 BST

The endangered list

1 Wiradjuri, Australia

Only 40 of the country's original 250 indigenous languages remain, with just 30 Wiradjuri speakers left

2 Nawat, El Salvador

spoken by only 200 people. there is now a revival thanks to a growing number of second-language speakers

3 Choctaw, USA

Spoken by just 9,500 people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma, it belongs to an indigenous language family

Top 10 most-spoken languages:
Mandarin, Spanish, English, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, Japanese, Punjabi

Europe's lesser-spoken lingua
Breton (northern France): 250,000
North Frisian (Germany): 10,000
Irish Gaelic: 440,000

Cree & Cherokee are two of the world's threatened languages that don't have a word for goodbye. They use a phrase that loosely means: "I will see you again"

The year around 2,500 languages will likely have become extinct according to UNESCO

Just 30,000 people speak North Saami — despite it being recognised as an official language in Norway, a minority language in Finland and Sweden, with speakers also found around the Scandinavian/Russian borders

Did you know?

Almost half of the world's population claims one of only 10 languages as their mother tongue

7,000k is the number of languages spoken worldwide

HEAR IT: 25 native speakers of some of the listed endangered languages have recorded themselves saying this sentence.

"A different language is a different vision of life" — Federico Fellini

Published in the Jul/Aug 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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