Go Euro (which unsurprisingly a travel website aimed at getting people to travel in Europe) recently published a blog post on the endangered languages of Europe. They teamed up with the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger and they profiled the 24 most endangered languages in Europe. To be endangered, a language has to be in a situation where it is not being passed on to children. This could be a severely endangered situation where the language is still spoken by grandparents and older generations with middle generations understanding it but not speaking amongst themselves or a critical situation where the youngest speakers are grandparents or older and they may only use it infrequently. In both of these situations, the language will no longer being learned and used by the youngest members of the community. Europe has over 200 languages but not all of them are officially listed as language of the EU. The populations of speakers run from handfuls to 100,000 or more speakers.
Go Euro has created a number of really great infographics to show you where the languages are spoken and give you a sense of how many speakers the languages have left. In their profile, they’ve included a number of lovely photographs and language samples where they are available.
Tourism can be a tool a language revitalization. By setting up language schools and promoting the use of the languages in the local economy, these endangered languages can become cultural capital that brings in visitors and tourist dollars. This, in turn, can encourage speakers to hold onto the languages as now cultural capital can lead to actual capital. While models of revitalization that encourage tourism are not without their problems, this is something we can all keep in mind when we’re traveling! What is the local language? Is it endangered? Can we hear it while we’re traveling? When we travel, we try the local cuisine, listen to local music, look for local art and participate in local festivals and holidays when we’re lucky enough to be there when they’re on, why not listen to the local language?
Follow the link to see to learn a little bit about the endangered languages of Europe.by