If you think language loss is no big deal, unimportant to you, or that it doesn’t really effect anything, it’s time to think again.
Around the world exist several “hotspots” for vanishing languages including Southeast Asia, Mexico, Papua New Guinea and Siberia, but the direct, immediate effects that language loss has on speaker populations can be seen very prominently in North America and Australia.
I’ve drawn up this infographic for you in order to help illustrate the actual effects that language extinction can wreak on individuals and -perhaps more devastating- entire communities whose identities are being taken away at an alarming rate.
**Update** It should be noted that language loss is by far not the only factor that leads to the results listed in these graphics. Marginalized indigenous people living on reservations are sometimes subject to extreme poverty. Language loss can be a significant factor in this poverty and social marginalization, but I do not wish to imply at all that it is the sole factor at play here.
It’s time we stopped thinking about endangered languages as someone else’s problem and awoke to the fact that this isn’t just some sob story about some indigenous legends and linguists’ careers, but a truly tragic crisis that directly contributes to poverty, crime, and shattered families.
What can we do about it? Sadly it doesn’t make sense for most of us to grab our notebooks and pith helmets and trudge off into the bush. What this issue really needs from people like you and I is awareness. The more that people know about endangered languages and their speakers, the more likely linguists’ efforts to slow the losses are to make a difference.
You can help out by tweeting or sharing this infographic on Facebook. Help spread awareness of a global problem that disintegrates communities and ruins lives.
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