One Language Disappears Every 14 Days

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This is astounding news.

One of the world’s 7,000 distinct languages disappears every 14 days, an extinction rate exceeding that of birds, mammals or plants, researchers said Tuesday.

At least 20% of the world’s languages are in imminent danger of becoming extinct as their last speakers die off, compared with about 18% of mammals, 8% of plants and 5% of birds….

Half of the world’s languages have disappeared in the last 500 years, and half of the remainder are likely to vanish during this century…

Fantastic quote from K. David Harrison, the expert on languages that is cited in the article: “When we lose a language, we lose centuries of thinking about time, seasons, sea creatures, reindeer, edible flowers, mathematics, landscapes, myths, music, the unknown and the everyday.” Harrison works at something called the “Institute for Endangered Languages.” Check that out here.

The folks there have identified the areas in the world where the most languages are going extinct, and it turns out one such hotspot is in Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. Click the link for more.

Update: Should have linked this earlier. Here’s Mother Jonesrecent cover story on animal extinction.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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