Austronesian Languages

The spread of Austronesian languages, which now span a vast area from Madagascar in the west to Easter Island in the east, is the legacy of one of the greatest seafaring peoples in the world. The ancestor of all Austronesian languages (referred to by linguists as “Proto-Austronesian”) is thought to have been spoken roughly 6,000… Continue reading Austronesian Languages

Circassian Languages

The Circassian languages, originally spoken in the Caucasus region of what is today southern Russia, are now spoken in the many countries where diaspora communities exist, including Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and the United States. The New York area is home to a significant Circassian community, particularly the town of Wayne, New Jersey, where several Circassian varieties are… Continue reading Circassian Languages

Middle Eastern Languages

By comparison with other regions of the world, the Middle East is not a center of linguistic diversity. A small number of Semitic, Turkic and Indo-European languages, namely varieties of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish, are dominant. The main regions of language endangerment are in eastern Afghanistan and along the Gulf of Aden in Yemen and… Continue reading Middle Eastern Languages

Iranic Languages

In the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, two centers of linguistic diversity stand out: the eastern Caucasus mountains — where a number of endangered Kartvelian, Northwest Caucasian (Circassian), and Northeast Caucasian (Nakh-Daghestani) languages are spoken — and the Pamir mountains of Tajikistan, home to several threatened Indo-Iranian languages. The New York area has populations of speakers… Continue reading Iranic Languages

Indigenous Languages

Mexico is home to 68 languages officially recognized by the Mexican government, and linguists have identified well over 300 or even more distinct language varieties. Between 6 and 8 percent of the population are reported to speak an indigenous language, and several of them–notably Nahuatl, Yucatec Maya, and Mixtec–have hundreds of thousands of speakers, if not more, as well… Continue reading Indigenous Languages

Italian Languages

Although the Tuscan dialect became the basis for standard Italian over time, the Italian peninsula and the surrounding area are a focal point of linguistic diversity on the European continent. UNESCO recognizes 31 vulnerable and endangered languages in Italy, including many indigenous Romance languages such as Venetian, Sicilian, and Friulian. All have grown up independent of… Continue reading Italian Languages

Darfur Languages

Africa is home to somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 languages. The majority of them belong to the massive Niger-Congo language family spoken across Sub-Saharan Africa, which in turn is traditionally divided into a “Bantu” group dominant across central and southern Africa (e.g. Swahili, Zulu, Xhosa etc.) and a diverse, “non-Bantu” group in west Africa (e.g. Yoruba,… Continue reading Darfur Languages

Celtic Languages

Once widely spoken across Europe, the Celtic languages were pushed to the continent’s western and northern fringes over time. The remaining Celtic languages are all derived from the Insular branch of the group historically spoken in the British Isles, while the Continental Celtic languages historically extant on the European mainland (including Gaulish and Ibero-Celtic) are… Continue reading Celtic Languages

Himalayan Languages

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Jewish Languages

Jewish languages are spoken exclusively or predominantly by Jewish populations. Though usually related to non-Jewish languages and at times better described as dialects, “registers”, or “repertoires”, they remain distinct and rooted in Jewish life. Since the ancient disappearance of Hebrew as a vernacular language and the beginning of the diaspora, Jews have spoken several dozen… Continue reading Jewish Languages