Half of the 6,700 languages spoken today are in danger of disappearing before the century ends, a process that can be slowed only if urgent action is taken --or so UNESCO reports.
As they point out, languages are what human use to interact and express the ideas, emotions, knowledge, memories and values that make up a people's intangible cultural heritage; language is essential to the special identity of individuals and groups. Safeguarding endangered languages is thus a crucial task in maintaining cultural diversity worldwide.
An interactive online resource illustrating the problem is the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. Freely available, this facility aims to provide speaker communities, policy-makers and the general public with state-of-the-art knowledge, continually updated.