UNESCO teams with Discovery Channel to raise awareness of dying languages

17 April 2002

With globalization and the homogenizing influence of information technology threatening the existence of thousands of languages, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today announced a partnership with the Discovery Channel in an effort to generate awareness of endangered languages and cultural heritage.

With globalization and the homogenizing influence of information technology threatening the existence of thousands of languages, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today announced a partnership with the Discovery Channel in an effort to generate awareness of endangered languages and cultural heritage.

According to estimates, half of the world's 6,000 known languages have fewer than 10,000 speakers, and a quarter of them have fewer than 1,000 who can speak them. Languages are considered threatened or at risk of disappearance if they have less than 30 per cent children speakers.

"Each language is a unique response to the human condition and each is a living heritage we should cherish," said UNESCO Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura.

The programming, which is slated to appear in 154 countries, will include vignettes, grassroots outreach and on-air promotions to bring little known and dying languages to millions of people, and show a sliver of life within these cultures.

"It is critical for Discovery Channel as a media role model to initiate and define key partnerships that reflect our core mission," said Dawn McCall, President of Discovery Networks International. "We have a social responsibility to raise awareness about key global issues that affect our world."

 

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