Peter Austin è professore di linguistica (con particolare attenzione per le lingue africane) e autore di tantissimi libri. L’ultimo (e il più interessante, a mio modesto parere) è 1000 Languages The Worldwide HIstory of Living and Lost Tongues.
Per il Guardian, Austin ha creato una top 10 delle lingue che stanno scomparendo più rapidamente.
Each language expresses the history, culture, society and identity of the people who speak it, and each is a unique way of talking about the world. The loss of any language is a loss to both the community who use it in their daily lives, and to humankind in general. The songs, stories, words, expressions and grammatical structures of languages developed over countless generations are part of the intangible heritage of all humanity.
So how to choose a top 10 from more than 3,000 endangered languages? My selection is a personal one that tries to take into account four factors: (1) geographical coverage – if possible I wanted at least one language from each continent; (2) scientific interest – I wanted to include languages that linguists find interesting and important, because of their structural or historical significance; (3) cultural interest – if possible some information about interesting cultural and political aspects of endangered languages should be included; and (4) social impact – I wanted to include one or more situations showing why languages are endangered, as well as highlighting some of the ways communities are responding to the threat they currently face.
La classifica è qui.