Social networking helping to preserve languages on brink of extinction


When people say that sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube bring people closer together, it’s easy to think of it as a one-dimensional thing. However, these kinds of sites that help and encourage social engineering have a few other major benefits that you might not consider at first.

For example, of the some 7,000 languages that are spoken around the world today, half of those are expected to be extinct by the year 2100. The cause of this sad fact is often cited to be globalization and the fact that common language is the only real way for otherwise disparate cultures to come together.

However, sites like Facebook are helping speakers of the more minority (and thus endangered) languages find their voices. People like Professor K David Harrison, an associate professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College and a National Geographic Fellow, explains the phenomenon:

“Small languages are using social media, YouTube, text messaging and various technologies to expand their voice and expand their presence. We hear a lot about how globalisation exerts negative pressures on small cultures to assimilate. But a positive effect of globalisation is that you can have a language that is spoken by only five or 50 people in one remote location, and now, through digital technology, that language can achieve a global voice and a global audience.”

Whilst plenty of minority languages will still die off in the years to come, it’s good to know that technology has brought us all a way to connect with others, no matter what languages you speak.