The newest edition of UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger totes up 6,000 world languages — and counts 2,500 as endangered and 200 as completely lost. The interactive atlas, released today, ranks the 2,500 endangered languages by five levels of vitality: unsafe, definitely endangered, severely endangered, critically endangered and extinct. This free, browsable resource complements a print version to be released next month. From UNESCO’s announcement:
For example, the Atlas states that 199 languages have fewer than ten speakers and 178 others have 10 to 50. Among the languages that have recently become extinct, it mentions Manx (Isle of Man), which died out in 1974 when Ned Maddrell fell forever silent, Aasax (Tanzania), which disappeared in 1976, Ubykh (Turkey) in 1992 with the demise of Tevfik Esenc, and Eyak (Alaska, United States of America), in 2008 with the death of Marie Smith Jones.
For more on endangered languages, watch Wade Davis’ 2003 TEDTalk on cultures at the far edge of the world:
UPDATE: Or check out this less-than-scholarly dictionary of endangered slang >>