Languages - Going, going, gone

13th March 2009 at 00:00

Scots and Scottish Gaelic are listed among the world's 2,500 endangered languages in the new electronic edition of UNESCO's Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing.

The atlas ranks the endangered languages according to their vitality: unsafe, definitely endangered, severely endangered, critically endangered and extinct. The UK has 11 entries. Scots is described as "unsafe" with 1.5 million speakers, while Gaelic is "definitely endangered", with only 58,552 speakers. There are 199 languages which have fewer than 10 speakers and 178 have between 10 and 50. Manx (from the Isle of Man) died out in 1976, and Eyak from Alaska last year when its last speaker, Marie Smith Jones, died.

Digital atlas: www.unesco.orgcultureenendangeredlanguages

UNESCO's map of endangered languages: www.unesco.orgcultureichUNESCO-EndangeredLanguages-WorldMap-20090218.pdf.

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