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/>This is an artist's rendition of the future building of the National Museum of Language
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LANGUAGES OF THE WORLD

Museum exhibits and programs on Languages of the World will present an unparalleled opportunity for the language lover. The goal of showing the scripts of hundreds of languages, accompanied by audio and visual exhibits showing speakers in action and the areas of the world where each language is written and spoken will bring languages alive as never before. The visitor will learn about Language Families, the Evolution of Languages, Specific Languages, the Linguistic Heritage of America, and Endangered Languages.

ENDANGERED LANGUAGES

The process of language extinction has four phases:

At Risk--The population of native speakers is less than 100.
Endangered--At least 30% of the children no longer speak it.
Moribund--Only a few adults (2-20) speak the language.
Extinct--No one can speak the language with any fluency.

According to a UNESCO study on endangered languages, about half of the world's 6,000 languages are under threat of disappearing under pressure from more dominant tongues or repressive government policies.

From France and Russia to the Americas and Australia, minority languages and the heritage that goes along with them are at risk of dying out, according to the UNESCO study.

"Today, at least 3,000 tongues are endangered, seriously endangered or dying in many parts of the world," said a statement by the Paris-based United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

"With the death and disappearance of a language, an irreplaceable unit in our knowledge and understanding of human thought and world-view is lost forever."

The 90-page study, "Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing," said the Americas and Australia had the worst record. In Australia, hundreds of Aboriginal languages are now extinct as a result of harsh assimilation policies in place until the 1970s.

"In the United States, less than 150 Indian languages have survived out of several hundreds that were spoken before the arrival of the Europeans," the study said, adding that discrimination lessened in the 1970s but English-only policies increased with a wave of conservatism in the 1980s.

The study identifies "crisis areas" such as Taiwan, where more than half of the 23 local languages "are yielding to the pressures of Chinese," and New Caledonia, where French has replaced regional tongues.

It also lists about 50 languages at risk in Europe, including 14 languages in France and several of the Saami or Lappish tongues spoken in Scandinavia and northern Russia.

According to the study, a native language can disappear when its speakers relocate and are required to speak the dominant tongue to get a job and function in the new society, or because they confront a more aggressive or economically stronger culture.

In Asia, the study says, the situation for minority languages "is uncertain in many parts of China" due to pressure from authorities. Linguistic diversity, however, is thriving in the Pacific region -- which includes Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea -- which accounts for more than 2,000 living languages, or a third of the world total.

Widespread bilingual or multilingual government policies on the Indian subcontinent have helped keep local languages alive there, and some tongues have even been resurrected through intensive revival campaigns -- including Cornish in southern England and the Ainu language in Japan.  

SOME CHEERS AROUND THE WORLD

Afrikaans

Gesondheid!

Albanian

Gezuar!

Amharic

Desta!

Breton

Yehed mad!

Catalan

Salut!

Chinese

ganbei!

Danish

Skal!

Dutch

Proost!

Esperanto

Je via sano!

Finnish

Kippis!

French

A votre sante!

Gaelic (Irish)

Slainte!

German

Prost!

Greek

ebiba!

Greek (ancient)

hygeia!

Hebrew

L’chaim!

Italian

Salute!

Japanese

kampai!

Latin

Bibite!

Maori

Kia ora!

Morse code

-.-.  ….  .  .  .-.  …

Pig Latin

Eerschay!

Polish

Na zdrowie!

Portuguese

Saude!

Romanian

Noroc!

Russian

na zdorovye!

Serbocroatian

Ziveli!

Spanish

Salud!

Swahili

Hongera!

Taiwanese

hotala!

Welsh

Iechyd da!

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