Matters of Scale - Unspoken Words

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Percentage of the world's languages that are of European origin
4 percent
Percentage of the world's languages that originated in Africa
30 percent
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Number of languages once spoken in the Peruvian Amazon (an area half the size of Alaska)
500
Number that survive today (almost half of which are in danger of extinction)
57
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Number of world languages that exist today
6,800
Number of languages that have speaking populations robust enough to ensure their survival past the end of the century
600
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Number of languages spoken by more than 1 million people
250
Number of languages spoken by less than 2,500 people
around 3,000
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Percentage of the world's 6 billion people that are considered indigenous
4 percent
Percentage of the world's 6, 800 languages that indigenous people speak
60 percent
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Percentage of the world's children raised as bi-lingual speakers
66.0 percent
Percentage of U.S. residents who are bi-lingual
6.3 percent
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Sources: Barbara F. Grimes, ed., Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 14th ed., CD-ROM version (Dallas, TX: SIL, 2000); Michael Krauss, "The World?s Languages in Crisis," vol. 68, no. 1 (1992); Jonathon Knight, "Lost for Words," New Scientist, 12 August 2000; Daniel Nettle and Suzanne Romaine, Vanishing Voices: The Extinction of the World?s Languages (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000); Barbara Walcraff, "What Global Language," The Atlantic Monthly, November 2000; U.S. Census Bureau data, www.census.gov and Worldwatch estimate.