endangered languages

Kenyan language activist Kennedy Bosire has co-edited an online dictionary of his mother tongue, Ekegusii, also know as Kisii.

American soft power has helped this Kenyan man’s efforts to ensure a future for his mother tongue

Ekegusii is spoken by about two million Kenyans but has been losing ground to Swahili and English. Now it is taught in some schools, thanks to local language activists assisted by American linguists.

Students Andries Jacobi, Nienke Kooi and Fardau de Vries attend a trilingual (Dutch, Frisian, English) public school in Koudum in the Dutch province of Friesland.

The first cousin of the English language is alive and well in the Netherlands

Lakota

The Standing Rock Sioux are also fighting for their language

Laguna tribal members Jenni Monet and her grandmother June Sarracino.

How do you revive a language if tribal elders don’t want you to?

Myaamia Chief Doug Lankford (right), linguist David Costa (center), and Myaamia Center director Daryl Baldwin (left), watching a traditional Stomp Dance in Oxford, Ohio.

How the Miami Tribe got its language back

Anne Jimmie grew up speaking Ktunaxa, only to lose much of the language when she was removed from her family and placed in a boarding school. In 2006, the Canadian government compensated Jimmie and about 80,000 other First Nations people as part of a clas

A new generation of Canadians are learning this language, and not all of them are tribal members

Many Ktunaxa lost their native tongue when they were sent to church-run boarding schools. Now the Ktunaxa language is making a modest comeback at a local school where both First Nations and white students study it.

Anne Jimmie grew up speaking Ktunaxa, only to lose much of the language when she was removed from her family and placed in a boarding school. In 2006, the Canadian government compensated Jimmie and about 80,000 other First Nations people as part of a clas

A new generation of Canadians are learning this language, and not all of them are tribal members

Many Ktunaxa lost their native tongue when they were sent to church-run boarding schools. Now the Ktunaxa language is making a modest comeback at a local school where both First Nations and white students study it.

Third-grader Haveo Maka'imoku with her brother. Haveo learns entirely in Hawaiian at a school in Hilo, Hawaii. At home, she speaks Hawaiian with mother, who attended one of the first Hawaiian language pre-schools founded in the 1980s.

The World in Words live: From Ainu to Zaza

Listen to The World in Words’ live performance at the New York Public Library, with stories on how language activists around the world are trying to revive their mother tongues.

Ainu artisan Maki Sekine and her Japanese husband Kenji. Though he is not Ainu, Kenji Sekine has learned the language and now teaches it to Ainu and non-Ainu students.

In Japan, the Ainu language is largely unknown and unloved, but linguists are fascinated by its mysteries

No one knows where Japan’s indigenous Ainu language, or the people who spoke it, came from. The language is not part of any known linguistic tree. Now, a dedicated group of Ainu and linguists from around the world are trying to unlock the language’s secrets before it dies out.

Sign in Beirut celebrating the hybrid Arabic/French/English that many Lebanese like to speak.

Three mother tongues in one

Many Lebanese speak a full-on mix of Arabic, French and English. Calling this linguistic melange a “mother tongue” started out as a joke, but now it’s become a part of Lebanon’s national identity — even if it means that sometimes people don’t understand what they are saying.