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Last updated at 14:16 BST, Friday, 05 September 2014

Language extinction


5 September 2014

Economic development is causing the extinction of some languages, scientists believe.
A study has found that minority languages in the most developed parts of the world, including North America, Europe and Australia, are most at threat. The research is published in the journal 'Proceedings of the Royal Society B'.


Rebecca Morelle


Money influences the development of culture


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(words spoken in the language Upper Tanana)

This is Upper Tanana. It's spoken by fewer than 25 people in Alaska and may soon vanish. Scientists say that regions like this in North America, as well as areas in Europe and Australia are now hotspots for language extinctions. A study shows that the more successful a country is economically, the more rapidly minority tongues are lost, as one national language comes to dominate educational and political systems.

(words spoken in Bahing)

The team also found that languages in the Himalayas could be at risk, such as Bahing in Nepal which has less than ten speakers. And some found in the tropics are also disappearing. Rapid economic growth in these regions is thought to be driving this loss.

The scientists say that greater protection is needed.


Click here to hear the vocabulary





(here) places at greater risk


small number of people in a community or country


have the most influence

economic growth

increase the amount of goods and services in a country over a short period of time

to be driving

(here) to be leading