25 Most Endangered Languages In The World

Posted by , Updated on June 9, 2014

Countries around the world may boast of languages inherent to them alone, but the fact remains that if they do not do something about their own endangered languages, they may quietly go into extinction. There are many reasons why a certain language became endangered. It may be because the population who speaks the language is in physical danger due to natural disasters, war, and genocide but it can also be because the speakers are prevented from speaking the language due to political repression or cultural hegemony. Whatever the reason these are the 25 most endangered languages in the world.

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Vilela

Vilela

An indigenous language of Argentina, this is only spoken today by a handful of elders in the Resistencia area of Argentina and in the eastern Chaco near the Paraguayan border. The remaining Vilela natives are being absorbed into the surrounding Toba people and other Spanish-speaking townsfolk. Though it is nearly an extinct language, it includes some dialects such as Ocol, Chinipi, and Sinipi, though only Ocol now survives. Some linguists consider the language as an isolate, while others linked it with other Argentinian language, Lule, into a small Lule-Vilela language family.

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Volow

Volow

This language is spoken on the Motalava Island, which is a part of the Republic of Vanuatu. Located near the east coast of Australia, the Republic of Vanuatu is composed of indigenous Austronesian languages, which are named after the island they are spoken on though larger islands have different languages as well. Volow is nearing extinction as it has only one known native speaker as of 2008.

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Wintu-Nomlaki

Wintu-Nomlaki

Wintu-Nomlaki is the language spoken by the Wintu tribe in California. The language is comprised of two dialects including the Nomlaki, which is spoken by the people along the Sacramento River south of Red Bluff; and Wintu. The Wintu tribe is part of the loose of people known as the Wintun or Wintuan, while others are known as Nomlaki and Patwin. Nowadays, descendants of the Wintu tribe can be found on the Round Valley Reservation, Colusa, Cortina, Grindstone Creek, Redding, and Rumsey Rancheria. Part of the Penutian language family, the Wintu-Nomlaki language is critically endangered with only one fluent speaker and several speakers with moderate command of the language as of 2008.

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Yaghan

Yaghan

This is one of the indigenous languages of the Yagan people of Tierro del Fuego, Chile. This is considered as a language isolate although some linguists had attempted to relate it to other dialects such as the Kawesgar and Chon. Along with other Fuegian languages, this was included in the first South American languages that were recorded by European explorers and missionaries. However, as of 2005, only one native speaker remains, Cristina Calderon of Villa Ukika on Navarrino Island, Chile, who is popularly known as ‘Abuela’.

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Yarawi

Yarawi

This Papuan language was spoken in the Morobe Province. A part of the Binanderean family of the Trans-New Guinea phylum of languages, this was most spoken during the 20th century but is now nearing extinction as natives switched to Binandere.

SEE ALSO: 25 Of The Most Difficult Languages To Learn In The World »

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