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Saving endangered languages, one child at a time

An initiative aimed at teaching preschoolers to speak Maori is catching on worldwide

A Samoan "language nest" -- A'oga Fa'a Samoa -- in central Auckland (Photo by Eryn Wilson)

There was a time when I could speak -- or rather, chant -- Latin. We altar boys needed it then; but now, if Latin is not quite dead, it is on life support, like many of the world's 6,900 languages.

Some 60% to 90% could be extinct in a century, with UNESCO's "Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger" listing 2,464 at risk. In the U.S., 192 are nearing their end. In China there are 144, in Australia 108, and in Japan eight. The U.K. has 11 tongues facing extinction, including Manx, Cornish and Scots.

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