People, cultures, languages

2019: The Year of Indigenous Languages

It is estimated that 2,680 languages are in danger of becoming extinct. Furthermore, by the turn of the century, it is claimed that at least 50 percent of the world’s current spoken languages could be lost! This is an astonishingly scary figure!

Thankfully, to combat this, the United Nations have declared 2019 The Year of Indigenous Languages.

In our first blog of 2019, eSense Translations explains why it is so important to preserve these minority languages, what action is being taken and how we too can help retain this all-important diversity in our human race.


Why minority languages are so important


There are approximately 6,900 languages currently spoken across the world. However, over 60% of our population speak only 30 of these languages. Although these languages dominate, enabling most of the global communication to take place, minority languages should not be overlooked and allowed to fall into extinction.

Language is the key to our culture. It defines our identity and preserves our history, our customs and traditions.

Imagine if you were the last speaker of your language in the world. How would you share your memories of the past, your people and your way of life? Furthermore, how would you communicate your goals for the future, your intentions, hopes and fears? Would this lack of communication lead to disruption and conflict? Would its absence disable the ability to settle disputes peacefully?

Language is a human right. It offers not only protection for the individual, their race and culture, but equally for worldwide harmony.


There have been campaigns previously to promote awareness of indigenous languages and their vulnerability, but this year, declaring 2019 as The Year of Indigenous languages (IY2019), the United Nations have launched an international campaign to bring worldwide attention to this issue.


Action points of the campaign


The IY2019 seeks to promote indigenous languages in the following 5 areas:

  1. Increasing understanding, reconciliation and international cooperation.
  2. Creation of favourable conditions for knowledge-sharing and dissemination of good practices with regards to indigenous languages.
  3. Integration of indigenous languages into standard setting.
  4. Empowerment through capacity building.
  5. Growth and development through elaboration of new knowledge.


By bringing global attention to indigenous languages and their valuable contribution, not only for their past cultural contributions, but also for future intercultural relations, the IY2019 hopes to create positive change for these languages and their communities, enabling them to grow in strength in the future.


Get involved

With the five key areas in mind, the IY2019 is hosting a number of events and projects that look to research, raise awareness and support the cultural traditions of these minority languages. It looks to target educational policies and bring initiatives to support the teaching and learning of these languages.

Furthermore, it is encouraging individuals and organisations to create their own projects, develop communities and share resources. For further information on getting involved, check out their link here.


Working at eSense Translations has enabled me to become a lot more aware of the vast array of languages that are spoken across the world. Even after several years, I still come across languages that I have not previously known.

This push for awareness of endangered languages by the United Nations provides hope for their future and could not come soon enough, considering the rate at which languages are currently being lost. By joining their campaign, we can strengthen their efforts to ensure these indigenous languages flourish in the future.


By Lorna Paice

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