Today there are about six thousand languages in the world, and half of the world’s population speaks only ten of them.
— Christine Kenneally, The First Word, p. 286
Linguistics has always intrigued me. Think about it: We all think in the language we speak, which begs the question — is complex thought even possible without language?
There’s a misconception on the Internet that every two weeks somewhere in the world a language goes extinct, but more accurately it seems to be once every three months. That’s still a death rate of four a year. Four languages on the earth will lose their last speaker over the next year.
Today 457 or 9.2% of the living languages have fewer than 10 speakers and are very likely to die out soon, if no revitalization efforts are made. 639 of the languages known to have existed are already extinct – 10% of all languages.