Linguistic diversity is threatened in all four corners of the Earth. That’s the message in a ‘map of endangered language “hotspots” compiled as part of a project called Enduring Voices, which is backed by the US National Geographic Society.
Most attempts to document linguistic diversity simply count the number of languages spoken in each geographic area. By this measure, Papua New Guinea — with more than 800 languages — stands out as the most diverse country. Africa, meanwhile, boasts some 2,000 of the world’s estimated 7,000 languages.
However, neither feature in the top 5 language hotspots identified by David Harrison of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and Gregory Anderson of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages in Salem, Oregon.