By Tom Colls
Today programme

An estimated 7,000 languages are being spoken around the world. But that number is expected to shrink rapidly in the coming decades. What is lost when a language dies?

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"Most people are not at all interested in the death of languages," he says. "If we are not cautious about the way English is progressing it may eventually kill most other languages."

According to Ethnologue, a US organisation that compiles a global database of languages, 473 languages are currently classified as endangered.

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"You've got smallest, weakest, least resourced communities trying to address the problem. And the larger communities are largely unaware of it," says Ethnologue editor Paul Lewis.

"We would spend an awful lot of money to preserve a very old building, because it is part of our heritage. These languages and cultures are equally part of our heritage and merit preservation."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today...00/8311069.stm