World’s Disappearing Languages: List of Soon To Be Extinct Language

Learning Mandarin Chinese will help you build a better understanding of one of the most widely spoken languages in our world and open up new career opportunities. If we’re talking about rich and colorful cultures, then there’s no doubt that this means some pretty amazing cultural experiences await!

While the most spoken language in the world is Chinese, there are many other languages like native American languages that could soon disappear. Here’s a list of nearly-extinct languages:

What is an endangered language?

An endangered language is known to be a language that has the potential of falling out of use, mainly because it has few surviving speakers. If languages like native American languages lose all of their native speakers, it becomes one of those languages that are suffering extinction.

UNESCO or United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has stated that around 6,000 languages currently exist in the world today. Of these, about half will have become extinct by the end of the century. UNESCO has a website where they regularly publish a list of endangered languages around the world. This way, people are aware of how many of these endangered languages are on the verge of extinction and can still possibly be saved.

How do languages become extinct?

There are many possible reasons why certain endangered languages might become critically endangered. Some can be attributed to the assimilation policies and globalization effects on societies, while others have to do with the geography or environment in which a language is spoken.

Reasons Endangered Languages Become Extinct:

  • The speakers of the language are assimilated into another culture. For example, the Aborigines in Australia were slowly pushed out by British settlers during colonization, and as a result, their language is now endangered.
  • The natural environment where a language is spoken can lead to its extinction – At the rate at which we’re polluting our planet, many endangered languages will die with their cultures because they no longer have an environment to call home or survive in.
  • Wars and conflicts between ethnic groups often threaten people’s ability to use their mother tongues (the most basic form of identity) – Various wars throughout history have led to mass relocations of distinct ethnic groups who speak different languages/dialects that eventually led entire communities to adopt common languages instead.
  • Economic and political instabilities have caused some societies to abandon their native tongues in favor of adopting another language use – With the rise of English as one of the spoken primary business languages, it has become essential for people to learn this language if they want to be successful in their careers.
  • A lack of government support can also lead to the language extinction of certain endangered languages. The more that governments promote learning an official language, primary language, or national language, the fewer people are inclined to speak minority languages that are not associated with economic power or national identity. 

As per UNESCO, 2,500 endangered languages are facing extinction, and about 20% of these are expected to be gone by the end of this century.

List of Languages That Could Soon Disappear

There are thousands of critically endangered languages that are on the verge of extinction. Here is a list of some of these Indigenous languages:


Ainu – Japan’s (nearly) lost language

Only 300 people speak Ainu, but efforts are made to revive it. The rare language is mainly spoken in the northern island of Hokkaido and has been said by many linguists as one which will never die out because there aren’t that many speakers left who can remember how exactly their ancestors spoke before them.


The critically endangered language of Chamicuro has only eight speakers. It belongs to a native tribe in Peru, and there are ten or so people left that know this dialect, but even these limited numbers won’t be able to survive much longer, with Spanish being the main means by which newcomers communicate now (and older generations who can still speak it).

A dictionary was created for their needs; however, no child learns his/her words anymore since everyone learned Portuguese instead in certain domains when they were very young children after arriving at school age.


Spoken only by 30 speakers, the Kunwinjku language of Australia is regarded as an “almost extinct” language. It is very similar to Iwaidja and is also related to languages in Malaysia.

The number of people that still know this language is dying out just like the tribes that once spoke it decades ago when Europeans contacted them during the 19th century who came with many diseases, including epidemics, which they couldn’t fight off since they didn’t have immunity against them.


Dumi is a small, endangered language spoken by only eight people left. There are several books written about the grammar and syntax of this ancient tongue. However, it’s not very well-known outside of Nepal or even within its own country borders, which makes efforts to revive Dumi all that much harder because there needs to be more communication between them if we want our knowledge base for future generations alive.


The Kavalan language is an endangered Taiwanese dialect with only 53 speakers. The last native speaker of this rare dialect passed away in 2012, but several efforts are being made to revive it since the number of speakers has dwindled drastically over the past three decades due to Taiwan’s advancement towards modernization which displaced indigenous culture much more significantly.


The Wintu language is a California Indigenous language spoken by only ten native speakers. There are six different dialects in this unusual tongue. Still, they are all very similar to one another. They are said to be nearly impossible for anyone outside of the immediate community to learn how to communicate with them effectively because of certain pronunciation differences frequently used by the Wintu people when they speak their native language.


The Ongota language is spoken in a small village tucked close to the White River. There are only six native speakers, all of which have now left and speak the Tsamai language as opposed to Amharic or any other modern Ethiopian languages for that matter; they’re called old-timers around these parts! The remaining inhabitants continue on with their lives using this ancient form instead so it may survive someday too through sheer force of will alone.


The Patwin word that means “canoe” is the only thing that’s left of this 300-year-old language today. It is only spoken by 12 native speakers who know it, but no one is teaching this or any other ancestral tongue to children, which makes sustaining what remains all the more difficult.


Sixteen people only spoke this language in 2009, but efforts are being made to preserve it nonetheless. For example, the Pawnee people have donated their sacred artifacts like arrows or tipi poles to museums so that others can learn about their animistic culture through these objects because not much else is left. All there ever was for this group of tribesmen has been lost forever.


The Usku is a language spoken by only ten people who are located in the mountainous regions of Peru. It belongs to the Cahuapana sub-branch within the Panoan languages, but it’s never known for certain because no one knows how many native speakers were alive during the 19th century when they first began recording data about their culture.


The Washo language is another Panoan dialect that’s severely endangered, with only 20 native speakers left in the world. This language is not a single language as it is part of the same group of languages as Hopi, which is spoken throughout Arizona in the US, but they are separate languages nonetheless because they have their own sets of lexicons and grammatical structures.


The Alawa is spoken by only four people who are known as the Alawa people. They can be found in Arnhem Land, which is located near the northern coast of Australia. Although this group has their own unique DNA, they’re not considered Aborigines, despite what scientists might say. Instead, they prefer to think of themselves as a distinct entity because no one around today knows how to speak their original tongue anymore after all these years.

Preserve a nearly extinct language: What can be done? What is being done?

Many organizations around the world like UNESCO and the European Union are actively doing what they can to save endangered languages from extinction. The National Geographic Society has been pushing for the last decade to preserve endangered languages by having them recorded and archived, so that future generations understand that when the world’s languages die, it takes a piece of culture with it.

One example is the Rosetta Project, which aims to acquire all audio recordings to archive them at places like universities where linguists study these kinds of things. Without concerted efforts on behalf of everyone who wants the world’s languages data preserved, there’s no telling how many more human tongues will turn into dust before we do something about it!

Apart from these languages, there are many more languages that are nearly extinct. If you are interested in learning a rare language, you might have to work really, really hard. On the other hand, if you are interested to learn Chinese in Singapore, you will have to join a mandarin group class.

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