» The interactive Atlas of Endangered Languages: Updates
21.02.2012 - Culture Sector

The interactive Atlas of Endangered Languages: Updates

©UNESCOEndangered languages of Southeast Asia in the Interactive Atlas.

The interactive Atlas of languages in danger is one of UNESCO’s major contributions in the field of language safeguarding. This tool is in constant evolution. By examining closely the status and trends of linguistic diversity in our current world, it communicates a knowledge that is always renewed and represents a dynamic platform for dialogue and exchanges on languages in danger. Therefore, it ensures greater visibility for these languages and contributes to promote them.

During 2011, some 178 languages were updated thanks to users' feedback, evaluated by the Atlas’s editorial team. Some of these languages have undergone a considerable change in status. Kalkoti and Duano', formerly listed as dialects, are now part of the distinct languages category. Regarded as a dialect of Bashkarik until recently, Kalkoti has just been recognized as an endangered language spoken by about 4000 speakers in a village also named Kalkoti and located in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province. As for Duano', spoken on the west coast of Johor Malaysia, it was recognized as an autonomous language whose speakers belong to an ethnic group with specific linguistic traits.

In terms of language vitality, the status of two languages has improved, while a third one has worsened. A Berber variant of Rif spoken in northern Morocco, Sanhaja of Srair is now part of the "critically endangered languages" instead of the "extinct languages" category, while Bashkarik, spoken in Pakistan, is no longer considered "seriously in danger". Despite its 40 000 speakers, Bashkarik remains in the "endangered" category because the use of other widespread languages - especially among young people - puts it at risk. Unlike the two previous cases, Arta, a language that one thought to be in critical condition, was classified as "extinct". Formerly spoken in the Philippines, this language from northern Luzon was not documented until the late 1980s, when it already had very few speakers.

Finally, following the reassessment by the Canadian regional editor, Bungee was removed from the Atlas. Indeed, the Atlas does not include pidgins because their vitality cannot be evaluated using the methodology established for the other languages.

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