COVID-19’s deadly rampage across the globe has not just left ravaged economies and untold personal grief. It has accelerated the loss of entire languages as elderly populations have suffered.
Language experts at Edith Cowan University estimate that seven or more languages could have been lost in the last few months.
Researcher Dr Annamaria Paolino said the loss of the world’s older generations would do irreparable damage to the language and culture of nations.
“UNESCO predicts that half of the world’s languages would be lost by the end of the 21st Century,” Dr Paolino said.
“Regional dialects are entwined within the historical and cultural fabric of the country and much will be lost with their passing.”
Dr Paolino said over the past few years younger generations have shown an increasing interest in learning their regional dialects, but it could be too late.
“The majority of these young people were learning them through their interactions with their nonni (grandparents) and bisnonni (great-grandparents) – conversations, stories, cooking and songs that have tragically now been laid to rest with their loved ones.”
Many of the world’s languages at risk of extinction are in the countries most effected by COVID-19, including the United States, UK, Spain, France and Italy.
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