Friday, June 22, 2012

Maps of Vanishing & Endangered Languages

In the July issue of National Geographic Magazine there is a feature titled Vanishing Voices. The feature is about languages that are in danger of becoming extinct in the next century. One of the online companion resources to Vanishing Voices is a languages hotspots map. The languages hotspots map is a heatmap of regions in which there are languages in danger of vanishing. You can click on the map to learn about the languages in danger in those regions.

This morning Google Maps Mania posted a very similar map from the Endangered Languages Project. The map on the Endangered Languages Project contains references to 3054 endangered languages. Click on the placemarks to find the names of languages, information about who speaks those languages, and the risk of those languages becoming extinct. The Endangered Languages Project is a collaborative project that invites contributions of language documentation in text and video form.

Applications for Education
After reading Vanishing Voices and looking at the maps you might ask students to think about why some languages spread over regions and continents while other other languages stayed in use only in small areas.