Top 5 Language Hotspots

Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages has identified roughly twenty Language Hotspots and has begun pilot expeditions to two Hotspots in 2007 (Central South America and Northern Australia) with ones planned for a further three Hotspots for 2008.

National Geographic –

Dr. Greg Anderson and Dr. David Harrison at the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages define hotspots as concentrated regions of the world having the highest level of linguistic diversity (see right), the highest levels of endangerment, and the least-studied languages. Rather than simply counting languages, Hotspots take into account the number of language families (which we call “genetic units”) represented in an area to calculate linguistic diversity.

Language Hotspots are areas that are urgently in need of action and should be the areas of highest priority in planning future research projects and channelling funding streams. Language Hotspots represent areas where we find a concentration of three logically independent factors, a high average level of endangerment, a high degree of linguistic diversity (calculated on the level of language family not individual language) and a low average level of prior documentation.

The Language Hotspots list became a major research agenda for 2005-2006 for Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages.

Aboriginal Australia holds some of the world’s most endangered languages. Many languages in the south and east of this Hotspot have been lost already, and more will soon follow. Aboriginal groups are small and scattered because of a history of conflict between white settlers and aboriginal groups. Many aboriginal groups did not survive this contact, while many others only barely survived and struggle to maintain language and culture.

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