More than 20 of Colombia’s indigenous languages are in danger of disappearing, according to a report from the Ministry of Culture released Monday.
A study by the Ministry of Culture in conjunction with the International Mother Language Day states that five native languages are “nearly extinct because they have almost no speakers” and another nineteen are in “serious danger” of disappearing in Colombia.
The five nearly extinct languages are Tinigua, Tonuya, Carijona, Totoro, and Pisamira. Each of these languages has fewer than 60 living speakers, and Tinigua has only one.
Moreover, 34 languages in Colombia, or approximately half, are currently spoken by fewer than 1,000 people. This demographic is likely not sustainable in a modern world which brings an “intense interchange” of cultures, as well as a number of other risks, such as poverty, often faced by speakers of these languages.
The ministry noted that there continue to be a number of indigenous languages that are vibrant and alive, and are still being passed down to younger generations. However, the ministry said that there are signs that these languages are in danger as well, and that something must be done to “construct their sustainability.”
The Program for the Protection of Ethnolinguistic Diversity, in conjunction with Law 1381 of 2010, is charged with the protection and preservation of indigenous language and culture.
In response to the study, the Program has noted the need to “recognize and preserve the 67 native languages that are spoken in Colombia.”