There are more than 6,000 languages spoken throughout the world. The U.N. estimates that half of those languages could disappear by the end of the century if nothing is done to save them. It's already happening: the 2010 edition of the U.N. Atlas of Endangered Languages says 18 languages have only one remaining speaker. Once that speaker dies, the language will almost surely die with him or her. The Atlas also classifies 574 languages as "critically endangered," a designation that depends on a number of factors including how easy it is to find learning materials for the language, government attitudes toward the language, and whether older generations pass down the language to younger ones.
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