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"The last speakers of probably half of the world’s languages are alive today. As they grow old and die, their voices will fall silent. Their children and grandchildren—by overwhelming majority—will either choose not to learn or will be deprived of the opportunity to learn the ancestral language. Most of the world’s languages have never been written down anywhere or scientifically described. We do not even know what exactly we stand to lose—for science, for humanity, for posterity—when languages die. An immense edifice of human knowledge, painstakingly assembled over millennia by countless minds, is eroding, vanishing into oblivion.

In the year 2001, as the second millennium came to a close, at least 6,912 distinct human languages were spoken worldwide. Many linguists now predict that by the end of our current twenty-first century—the year 2101—only about half of these languages may still be spoken."

K. David Harrison. When Languages Die. 2007.

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