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Mother tongue essential for communication

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

PARIS – The world has about 6,700 languages but half of them are being used by only 0.2 percent of the total of the world’s population and are in danger of extinction. Nearly 80 percent of the world population jointly uses only 83 languages. Unesco reminds the public each year of the importance of the diversity in languages and cultures when it proclaims in February an annual Day of the Mother tongue (Dag van de Moedertaal). Languages are essential for communication and the dissemination of knowledge and culture, and are obviously important reasons to protect them, according to the U.N. agency. There are languages in every part of the world that face extinction, including France, where there are 26 being threatened that way. In Papua New Guinea there are 88 of the 800, which may not be around by the end of this century. Some languages have only a few speakers left. Tens of millions speak the German language but that has not stopped the publishers of Deutsche Sprachwelt to launch a campaign that German faces encroachment. Why else would Sale replace Ausverkauf on the windows of stores? The magazine wants to document a thousand reasons why to speak Deutsch.