As forests are cleared and species vanish, there’s one other loss: a world of languages | Environment | The Guardian
There are many effects on our nature lately but the hands of humans. A broad diversity in languages makes the world a more diversified and interesting place.
It’s a shame we lose our cultural heritage through this.
“There are extraordinary parallels between linguistic diversity and biodiversity,” says Loh. “Both are products of evolution and have evolved in remarkably similar ways, and both are facing an extinction crisis.”
But exactly why there should be such a close link between languages and biological diversity is unclear, even though it was noticed by Darwin. “Places of high diversity, especially tropical forests, have always been known to have high linguistic diversity, whereas tundra and deserts have low diversity,” says Loh. “It is possible in some way that higher biodiversity is capable of supporting greater cultural diversity. The explanation seems to be that both biological and cultural diversity depend on the same environmental factors such as temperature and rainfall.”
Conservationists fear that the loss of species due to man’s activities is accelerating. And linguists say that the wealth of the world’s human languages is now safeguarded by very few indigenous peoples, most of whom live precarious lives in developing countries.
Of the 7,000 languages spoken worldwide, half now have fewer than 10,000 speakers, and these 3,500 languages are spoken by only 0.1% of the world’s population – equivalent to a city about the size of London. These eight million people are now responsible for keeping the wealth of human cultural history alive, says the report.