From the Unesco website.
With the death of Marie Smith Jones, the Eyak language of Alaska (United States) died out last year and Ubykh (Turkey) vanished in 1992 with the demise of Tevfik Esenç. Some 200 languages have become extinct in the last three generations, according to the new edition of the “UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger”. The Courier’s feature, published in honour of International Mother Language Day (21 February), focuses on this worrying trend. When languages die, not only words disappear, but ways of seeing and describing reality; we lose valuable knowledge and worlds of thought.
The work carried out by the more than 30 linguists who worked together on the Atlas, financed by Norway, shows that the phenomenon of disappearing languages appears in every region and in very variable economic conditions. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately 2,000 languages are spoken (nearly one third of the world total), it is very probable that at least 10 % of them will disappear in the next hundred years. The Atlas furthermore establishes that India, the United States, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico, countries that have great linguistic diversity, are also those which have the greatest number of endangered languages. However, the situation is not universally alarming. Thus, Papua New Guinea, the country which has the greatest linguistic diversity on the planet (more than 800 languages are believed to be spoken there), also has relatively few endangered languages (88). Certain languages that are shown as extinct in the Atlas are being actively revitalized, like Cornish (Cornwall) and Sîshëë (New Caledonia), and it is possible that they will become living languages again. Furthermore, thanks to favourable linguistic policies, there has been an increase in the number of speakers of several indigenous languages. It is the case for Central Aymara and Quechua in Peru, Maori in New Zealand, Guarani in Paraguay and several languages in Canada, the United States and Mexico. The Atlas also shows that due to economic factors, different linguistic policies and sociological phenomena, a given language may have varying degrees of vitality in different countries. For Christopher Moseley, an Australian linguist and editor-in-chief of the Atlas, “It would be naïve and oversimplifying to say that the big ex-colonial languages, English, or French or Spanish, are the killers, and all smaller languages are the victims. It is not like that; there is a subtle interplay of forces, and this Atlas will help ordinary people to understand those forces better.”