Social Media to Preserve Endangered Languages

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Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

In the world today, there are over 6,000 languages spoken. The three most spoken languages in the world are English, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish. Some villages of Africa, Asia, and South America only speak dialects with fewer than 1,000 speakers of that language per village.

 BBC reported that about 7,000 endangered languages may flourish by the end of the century, as many villagers leave their communities or want to learn “modern languages,” that they feel are perhaps more useful than their own native tongue. Some endangered languages include Munsee and Vasi-vari. 

The Munsee language was spoken in modern day New York City. It was also spoken in various areas in New York State, New Jersey and Pennsylvania (USA). Munsee is now spoken only on the Morviantown Indian Reserve in Ontario, Canada, by less than 50 elderly members of the group. Vasi-vari is a language spoken by the Vasi tribe in a few villages in the Prasun Valley, Afghanistan. Only 1,000 people are said to have this as a first language and is considered to be the least spoken of the Nuristani languages.

 Modernization and globalization have often been the enemies of traditional and local cultures, but modern day social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and texting are being utilized to save some of the world’s dying languages. It has been predicted that by 2100 that half of the 7,000 endangered languages spoken globally will disappear and linguists experts are preserving as many of them as they can.

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"Small languages are using social media, YouTube, text messaging and various technologies to expand their voice and expand their presence," said K David Harrison, an associate professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College."You can have a language that is spoken by only five or 50 people in one remote location and now through digital technology that language can achieve a global voice and audience.”


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