“There are approximately 6.5 billion people in the world speaking thousands of languages, but fewer than 20 languages facilitate most of the communication in the world. Being able to speak English or Mandarin allows communication with approximately a quarter of the world’s inhabitants, and the top 10 languages- including Hindi, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, and French- allow conversations to flow among nearly 60% of the people in the world.
The flip side of this is the dramatic decrease of the number of languages spoken and the number of languages in danger of extinction. There are more than 7,000 languages spoken in the world (Papua New Guinea alone has 820 languages in use), with more than 90% having fewer than 100,000 speakers.
But even that statistic fails to capture the threat to linguistic diversity. Linguists estimate that more than half of all languages will disappear by the end of the 21st century. So take some time and learn Kawesqar before it is too late.”
* Excerpt taken from Motley Fool Global Gains– Volume 2, Issue 1, January 2007