Vanishing Languages

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Duke Today

Over the millennia, some 7,000 human languages evolved around the world, offering 7,000 vantage points on views of what it is to be a human living on planet Earth. Now that number is shrinking. About every two weeks, another language goes extinct, says linguist Julie Tetel Andresen.

That alarms Andresen, professor of English and chair of linguistics at Duke, who has taught at the university since 1986.

“Language loss has been going on gradually for the last 400 or 500 years,“ Andresen said. “But in the last twenty years, it has been lightning fast with the spread of globalization.”