[Indonesian Report] Half of world languages feared to “die” by end of this century

Bugis Language, spoken by Bugis in central South Sulawesi and neighboring provinces (Photo: Tim Brookes, endangeredalphabets.com)

Indonesia is sitting in the 4th place on the world’s most populous countries rank, with more than 230 million populations. Indonesia is known as one of world most ethnically heterogeneous nations. Most of each ethnic in Indonesia has its own mother languages.

Indonesian Vice Minister of Education and Cultural, Windu Nuryati told Antara News Agency, Indonesian government-owned mass media, languages existed in Indonesia represent 10 percent of world languages.

Out of the total 7,000 languages in the world, around 743 are Indonesian local languages.

Through her speech on the opening of Asia-Europe Meeting Language Diversity Forum in Jakarta, Tuesday (Sept 4), Nuryati said 442 Indonesian local languages have been mapped and there is possibility that the number would be increased.

A Linguist, Michael Krauss, predicts that up to 90 percent of the 7,000 spoken languages in the world are endangered and over 50 percent will ‘die’ by the end of this century.

Map of the world's languages in danger (Photo:UNESCO)

Koichiro Matsuura, Former Director General of UNESCO expressed the significant of Mother languages in his message for the International Mother Language Day on 21 February 2007.

“It is in the mother tongue that we utter our first words and express individual thoughts best. It is the foundations upon which all human beings develop their personality from the moment they draw their first breathe, and which supports them throughout their lives. It is the school for respect for oneself, one’s history and one’s culture but, above all, for others and their differences.” Matsuura said.

On her message for Mother Language Day in 2011, Current Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, told why do mother languages need to be preserved.

“Mother languages, along with linguistic diversity, matter for the identity of individuals. As sources of creativity and vehicles for cultural expression, they are also important for the health of societies”.

She also said that the outcome of learning in mother language is important on education. Languages are factor on development and growth.

Realizing the role of technology in people’s life in this century, UNESCO adopted a theme on its 2011 International Mother Language Day: The use of information and communication technologies for safeguarding and promoting languages and linguistic diversity.

UNESCO’s commitment now is to promote multilingualism on the Internet.

Borova said that the success of the online version of UNESCO’s Atlas of the World Languages in Danger was the evidence of Internet’s power to track the state of languages and multilingualism and also to raise public awareness of the extinction of massive numbers of world’s languages.

Meidyana Rayana Intern Reporter news@theasian.asia

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