Skip to toolbar
 

What’s an endangered language?

By Wycliffe UK

Pandas. Elephants. Monarch butterflies. We’ve all heard of endangered species (especially the cute ones), and know there’s value in preserving them. But what about endangered languages? Have you heard of the Mlomp language of Senegal? How about the Tamazight language of Algeria? Or my personal favourite, the Cocama-Cocamilla language of Brazil?

There are over 2000 languages on UNESCO’s list of endangered languages. Over a third of all the languages in the world, in fact – but some linguists estimate that as many as half the world’s 7,361 languages may be at risk.

Numbers are helpful for giving us an overview. But the truth is, it’s not about the numbers. It’s not even about the languages. It’s about the people who speak them. You can listen to some speakers of endangered languages for yourself in the following video. Listen out for the clicks in the N/u language at 1:15!

SIL, one of Wycliffe’s partner organisations, recognises the value of individual languages and believes that each language is a unique expression of culture and worldview. SIL is dedicated to coming alongside language communities as they strive to preserve their languages and identities. For more on endangered languages, check out SIL’s endangered languages page. For more on some of the people behind the numbers, have a look at Wade Davis’s TED Talk, where he uses some amazing photos to illustrate what the loss of a language really means.

One of the ripple effects of Bible translation is that languages are preserved and strengthened. A member of the Bydla* translation team, who was the first Bydla Christian, reports that some words have actually been brought back into use thanks to Bible translation in her language:

‘Without this project, our language was withering; now it is saved.’

 

Related Content

Upcoming Events

  • (POSTPONED) Arts for a Better Future – U.K.

    July 12 - July 20 at All Nations

    You are invited to a week long arts course at All Nations college, in England, 12th - 17th July 2020. The aim is for you to be able help local communities draw on their artistic resources to help them respond to their spiritual, social and...

  • Story Telling & Story Development Workshops

    August 28 @ 3:00 pm - September 1 @ 1:00 pm UTC+0 at Windsor at Westside, Kissimmee, Florida

    Have you ever wanted to learn how to share oral Bible stories in ministry and evangelism? The StoryRunners Orlando School of Storying is a two-part intensive workshop. Part one, the Story Telling Workshop, is focused on learning and using oral stories in personal ministry and...

  • Discovering and learning oral teaching methods

    September 21 @ 9:00 am - October 2 @ 1:30 pm CEST at WEC International Germany

    Orality is not merely about communicating verbally instead of writing, but it is about thinking patterns, what kind of information seems relevant and interesting, how is information remembered and how is it passed on to others. 70% of the world population are oral learners, either...

  • e3 Oral Strategies Story Training for Trainers Workshop

    October 12 @ 9:00 am - October 16 @ 5:00 pm CDT at e3 Partners Ministry

    During one of the fastest periods of expansion the Church has ever experienced it was oral communication, not written, that fueled the movement. Today, over 75% of the world consists of oral learners, individuals who absorb information through drama, song, and storytelling. Many unreached people...

View All Events
 
Join the ION Community!

Notice: Undefined variable: royal_prettyphoto_tab_url in /var/www/vhosts/orality.net/httpdocs/wp-content/plugins/rt-prettyphoto/rt-prettyphoto.php on line 175

Notice: Undefined variable: royal_prettyphoto_text_for_tab in /var/www/vhosts/orality.net/httpdocs/wp-content/plugins/rt-prettyphoto/rt-prettyphoto.php on line 175