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Causes and Consequences of the Notion of Language Death

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Crystal also discusses the topic of the language change stating that “languages do not get better or worse when they change” and the task of the linguist is to study this language change / Crystal, 2006, p. 26 /. The question of the actual number of languages in the world is one of the most debatable in the sphere of contemporary linguistics. The problem is that there is no unique definition of the language and therefore the number of languages varies from 4,000 languages to 6,000. Let’s have a look at the number of languages in different places of the world: in Africa exist 1,900 languages, thus, Nigeria alone is the home for 400 languages and language varieties. The inhabitants of both Americas speak over 900 languages, which also include native American languages, spoken primarily in Central and South America. One of the record-holders according to the number of languages is Papua-New Guinea, which has as much as 850 languages, Indonesia has 670, India 380, and Australia – 250 / Shetter, 2000/.Languages may vary according to the number of their speakers – from hundreds of millions of speakers around the globe speaking English or Spanish or Chinese, to a few thousand or even hundred speakers of some Aboriginal languages. Some languages are spoken only by a small group of people – a dozen or even less. These languages gradually go down disappear / Shetter, 2000/.Numerous researches were made to study the number of languages and forecast their future development and it was proven that by the end of the 21st century the number of spoken languages of the world will reduce by 50% or even 90% / Krauss, 1992 /. The loss of linguistic diversity is quite an urgent problem and it can be treated. However, I will turn back to this question a bit later. Now I’d like to explain the process of the language death, its stages, and characteristics.Krauss considers that now from 20% to 40% of languages are already dead and only 5% to 10% can be considered as “safe” meaning widely spoken and/or having the status of official languages /Ostler, 2000 /.