News – Chinese Languages

China’s Language – a new book by Sun Hongkai, Hu Zenyi and Huang Xing from the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences – has found that a total of 130 languages are spoken by China’s 56 ethnic minorities. The authors warn, however, that many of these languages are now in danger of extinction. Indeed, functions of the languages were lost even while the book was being researched. This leaves the authors wondering whether the glut of minority languages and the larger shared languages can continue to exist in harmony for a culturally diverse China. This week also brought the sad news of the death of Marie Smith Jones, the last surviving speaker of the Eyak language of Alaska.