Dead languages

Language is a complex system of signs that correlates conceptual content and typical sound․
А natural language or ordinary language is any language that has evolved naturally in humans through use and repetition without conscious planning or premeditation. The history of these languages is inextricably linked with the history of the peoples that speak them.Natural languages arise and develop spontaneously and serve primarily as a means of communication among members of a particular ethnic group.

The Number Of Languages And Language Families

Today, 7139 languages are spoken around the world, and they are grouped into 153 language families, according to the American Ethnologue.The German Glottolog lists 8 533 languages and 427 language families.

A language family is a group of languages that originated from a single pre-language. Among them, Indo-European is the most common (per number of speakers)․ It contains 446 (Ethnologue) – 583 (Glottolog) different languages, which are categorized by branches, such as German, Romance, Baltic-Slavic, etc.
Armenian is a distinct language, Greek and Albanian are separate branches as well.
Considering the number of languages, the largest language family is the Niger-Congolese (according to Ethnologue), with 1,551 languages, or the Atlantic-Congolese (according to Glottolog), with 1,403 languages.
There are languages spoken by only a few hundred people. Meanwhile, more than half of the world’s population speaks only 23 languages.
Over time, language numbers naturally change. A language can separate from the existing language or die because it is no longer spoken.

Dead Languages

A dead language is “one that is no longer the native language of any community”, even if it is still in use, like Latin, Ancient Armenian.
An extinct language is a language that no longer has any speakers, especially if the language has no living descendants.

Endangered Languages

3,018 languages are endangered as of 2021. This is 42% of all living languages. These languages are in danger due to the small number of speakers (less than 1000 people).
Languages are disappearing especially in countries where (for example, in the United States and Australia) native speakers are isolated in special areas (Indian reservations in the United States), to integrate into the social life of the country, they must switch to the main, state language (in this case English).
The UNESCO World Red Book of Languages (UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger) provides information on the degree of danger of languages.

Regional or Minority Languages

The Council of Europe օn November 5, 1992, adopted a document, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, and called on European countries to sign and ratify it. According to the document, these countries, among other things, must protect these languages and create an opportunity to communicate with them in public life.
The Charter aims to preserve the language of minorities as part of the European heritage.
For example, in Georgia Laz, Svan and Megrelian languages are considered Georgian dialects, while according to the Charter they are independent languages. That is why Georgia does not sign this document, since only languages, not dialects, need protection and support.
A language whose speakers make up 2% to 10% of the region’s inhabitants, it acquires the status of a regional one. Armenia ratified the Charter back on December 28, 2001. Armenia has five such languages: Assyrian, Yezidi, Greek, Russian, and Kurdish.

New languages

By new we mean languages that not so long ago were considered dialects of the language, but research has shown their right to be an independent language. Neapolitan, once was a dialect of Italian, is now an independent language, just as Italian was once a vulgar Latin. The same can be said for the Sicilian language. There are also new languages that are new to European or American science. For example, a language called Jedek in Malaysia discovered a few years ago is spoken by 280 people.

Revived Languages / Languages With A Second Life

There are few examples of when the dead language came to life again. The Jews revived the ancient written language Hebrew.
Cornish, the language of the inhabitants of Cornwall (part of the British branch of the Celtic group of the Indo-European language family) was considered extinct until recently.Another of the revived Celtic languages is Manx. The last person for whom this language was a native language, but not learned later, died in 1974. In other words, the language did not have a natural continuation, but then they started learning the language and now quite a lot of people speak that language.

A natural language that occurs naturally can disappear naturally. However, the deliberate elimination of language as cultural property is very troubling but preventable

Naira Tamamyan


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