Sunday, February 18, 2018


Situation of languages

Languages are a vehicle of systems of values and cultural expressions, and a determinate factor of the identity of groups and individuals.

  • -More than 50% of the 6000 languages of the world are in risk of disappearing.
  • -96% of the 6000 languages of the world are spoken by 4% of the world population.
  • -90% of the languages of the world are not represented in the Internet.
  • -A new language disappears every two weeks.
  • -80% of the African languages have no written transcription.

Languages are not just accurate instruments for communication, but also the expression of a certain perception of the world.

Therefore, languages are the most important intangible heritage of mankind.

UNESCO, conscious of the need to preserve and develop this heritage, has prioritized among its objectives the protection of those cultural spaces.

On occasion of the international LINGUAPAX seminary, celebrated in Leioa (1996), the former General Director of the UNESCO, Federico Mayor Zaragoza, pointed out the need to elaborate a first report about the state of languages in the world, in order to make people aware of the concern about the linguistic heritage and to protect living languages.

After the results of that report, 1800 languages disappeared from 1970 (4500 languages) to 1985 (2700 tongues). If this tendency does not change, during this century 90% of the linguistic heritage of the humanity could disappear.

The processes of linguistic substitution require deep studies to determine their main causes. The report of the UNESCO mentioned causes such as emigration, pressure made by governments and dominant cultures, etc.

This dominance is also supported by the power of the media, more and more globalized as time goes by, which have a deep impact on all social groups.

The UNESCO urges individuals, groups and societies to mobilize after the preservation of this intangible heritage of the humanity.