Endangered languages and conlangs in perspective

I recently wrote about enthusiasts of Na’vi, the constructed language (or conlang) from the recent film Avatar.  Today I read a news story that claimed that over 12,000 people are learning the language in Australia alone*.

This made me wonder about the number of people speaking minority languages around the world.  According to Wikipedia, of the 6-7,000 languages spoken in the world, around half of them have less than 3,000 speakers.  It is anticipated that in the next 50-100 years, sadly, most of these languages will become extinct.

So, in a few short months, Na’vi has overtaken over half of the languages in the world in terms of numbers.  It may not share rich history or large vocabulary, but something has to be said for the achievements of its creators.  While some may say that it’s a pity that people are ‘wasting their time’ on learning a made-up language, I think it’s kind of nice that there are language enthusiasts out there, regardless of the ‘validity’ of the language.

*This is based on usage from a single website, though, so this may be a worldwide number.

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