Most Languages to Vanish by 2100

Grant Barrett gbarrett at MONICKELS.COM
Thu Jun 1 19:05:40 UTC 2000

On Thursday, June 1, 2000, Grant Barrett <gbarrett at MONICKELS.COM> wrote:
>"Most of the world's 6,000-plus languages will have died out by the end of the
>century, experts predicted yesterday. Linguists issued fresh warnings about the
>position of the thousands of languages spoken mainly by adults but increasingly
>by their children and grandchildren."

I meant to comment when I sent the first email, but I had to go do actual work.

The idea of predicting this sort of thing to me seems at the same time useful and
irritating. I dig the idea of preserving living languages and I think it proper to
sound the alarm, but on the other hand, the original Independent article has been taken
in other forums to indicate that the entire world will speak only English, Spanish or
Mandarin by 2100. This is, of course, not justified by the article or the original

This kind of mis-representation of a simple prediction is constantly on my mind
lately as I look into the 1990 New Madrid earthquake prediction. I'm not finished yet,
but the connected dots from the simple first statement to the final non-denouement of
an unfulfilled prediction is a prime example of how concerned professionals ought to
think twice about making these kinds of statements. It's the only way to avoid
misunderstanding, I think.


Grant Barrett
gbarrett at
AIM: monickels

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