I don’t speak those languages.
In fact very few people do.
They’re used only by a handful of people.
And all those languages are in danger of extinction.
There are more than 7,000 languages spoken in the world today.
But about 1/3 of those have fewer than 1000 speakers.
And according to UNESCO more than 40% of those languages are in danger of extinction.
In fact every fortnight one of the world’s languages disappears forever.
When you say dead language, many people think of Latin.
But Latin actually never died.
It’s been spoken continuously since the time of the Caesars.
But it changed very gradually over 2,000 years until it became French, Spanish and other Romance languages.
True language death happens when communities switched to other languages and parents stopped raising their children to speak their old ones.
When the last elderly speaker dies, the language is unlikely ever to be spoken fluently again.
If you look at this chart which measures the world’s languages in terms of their size and their state of health, you can see that most languages are ranked in the middle.
English like just a few other dominant languages is up at the top left hand corner.
It’s in a really strong state.
But if your language is down here in the bottom right hand corner of the graph, like Kayupulau from Indonesia or Kuruaya from Brazil, you are in serious trouble.
In the bad old days governments just banned languages they didn’t like.
But sometimes the pressure is more suttle.
Any teenager growing up in the Soviet Union soon realized that whatever language you spoke at home, mastering Russian was going to be the key to success.
Citizens of China including Tibetans as well as speakers of Shanghainese or Cantonese faced similar pressure today to focus on Mandarin.
Once the language is gone, well, it usually goes the way of the dodo.
Just one language has ever come back from the dead - Hebrew.
It was extinct for two millennia.
But Jewish settlers to Palestine in the early 20th centuries spoke different languages back in Europe.
And they adopted Hebrew on their arrival as their common language.
It became Israel’s official language when the country was fully established in 1948 and now has seven million speakers.
Now Hebrew is the world’s only fully revived language, but others are trying.
Cornish spoken in southwestern England died out two centuries ago.
But today there are several hundred speakers of the revived language.
Practicality side human diversity is a good thing in its own right.
Imagine going on an exciting holiday, only to find that the food, clothing, buildings, the people and yes, the language was just the same as back home.
Oliver Wendell Holmes put it well.
Every language is a temple in which the soul of those who speak it isn’t shrunked, moving that soul of the people from a temple into a museum, just isn’t the same thing.