Wednesday, December 15, 2010

All the UK's "Celtic" languages are now "living", Irish is "definitely endangered".

Last week the most recent edition of the Atlas of World Languages in Danger was published by UNESCO. There were a couple of interesting findings from a UK point of view:

1.For the first time Cornish has been recognised as a living language.

2.All the UK's "Celtic" languages are now recognised as living (although endangered/vulnerable) languages.

UNESCO's classification of our five Celtic languages are as follows:

1.Cymraeg/Welsh: Vulnerable (611,000 speakers out of 2.98 million population)

2.Gaeilge/Irish: Definitely endangered* (80,000 speakers out of 6.1 million population)

3.Gàidhlig/Scottish: Definitely endangered (58,652 speakers out of 5,168,500 population)

4.Gaelg/Manx: Critically endangered (revitalised) (1,689 speakers out of 76,315 population)

5.Kernewek/Cornish: Critically endangered (revitalised) (2000 speakers out of 500 000 population)

Although the Irish figure in particular looks to be on the lowish side, the methodology employed can be accessed from the report here.

*"Definitely endangered" is defined as "children no longer learn it as a mother tongue at home.

1 comment:

D Ifans said...

You must also take into consideration the number of Welsh speakers living in the rest of the UK and abroad, many of whom still use Welsh in some capacity, for example talking to family and friends on the phone, or using Welsh websites via web or watching Welsh programmes via, which according to WLB research is numbered at between 440-520,000 people.