According to linguist Michael Krauss, as many as 3000 languages are headed for extinction in the next century. They comprise half of all words on earth. Of the 300 original languages spoken in North America, only 20, perhaps fewer, can survive much longer. Only 250 languages in the entire world have at least a million speakers, considered a "safe" level necessary to sustain the language. Global homogenization is a powerful factor, and the readily-evolving amoeba called english has the upper hand.

This impending series of disappearances has linguists hurrying to catalogue languages before they disappear.

Source: Harper's Magazine, August 2000, pp35-43

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