Language death is the disappearance of a language. This occurs when all members of a community cease to speak their own traditional language, normally after the language has been endangered for some time, owing to negative attitudes and social factors that disfavor its use. This entry discusses the processes of language endangerment and the triggers that often lead to language death. It also discusses some political and educational strategies to revitalize languages facing extinction and gives some brief case studies.


The most pessimistic estimates suggest that up to 90% of the world’s 6,000 or so languages are endangered, and that half or more may disappear in this century. One website that attempts to identify and enumerate the world’s languages and assess how many are dying is ...

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