(Daily News Scan - DNS English) Why Seke Language is Getting Extinct?


(Daily News Scan - DNS English) Why Seke Language is Getting Extinct?


There are roughly 6,500 languages in this world. Out of this around 2000 languages have less than 1000 speakers around the world. In a press release issued by UN in December 2019, President of the UN General Assembly was quoted saying that despite efforts throughout the year, one indigenous language disappears every fortnight. Similarly, Nepalese language Seke is on the verge of getting extinct. The New York Times reported that the “near-extinct” Nepalese language Seke has just 700 speakers around the world.

In this DNS we will talk about the languages getting extinct and know about the reasons.

Nepal’s Seke language is almost at the verge of getting extinct. It has only 700 speakers around the world. Out of these 700, 100 speakers are in New York. Most of the speakers of the Seke language in New York stay in Ditmas Park area of Brooklyn, or in Queens.

According to the Endangered Language Alliance (ELA), Seke is one of the over 100 indigenous languages of Nepal. It is mainly spoken in 5 five villages of Chuksang, Chaile, Gyakar, Tangbe and Tetang in the Upper Mustang district. The dialects from these villages differ to a great extent and are believed to have varying degrees of mutual intelligibility. In recent years, Seke has been retreating in the face of Nepali, which is Nepal’s official language. It is considered to be crucial for getting educational and employment opportunities outside villages.

Now let us know the reasons why the language has been left with very few speakers.

As per Endangered Language Alliance (ELA) various conditions and problems at home or job prospects, have brought speakers of Seke to Pokhara, Kathmandu and New York.

The vulnerability of the language is majorly connected to the migration of people to places where Seke is not spoken. This has reduced the intergenerational transmission of the language.

Moreover the younger generation does not find much use of the language in learning.

Let’s us now know some facts about SEKE Language.

  • Seke means Golden Language. It is one of Nepal’s 100 endangered languages
  • This language originated in the Mustang district of Nepal.
  • It is an unwritten language, with three reported dialects as - Tangbe, Tetang, and Chuksang.

Now let’s further know how and on what basis a language is considered extinct or endangered.

UNESCO has six degrees of endangerment. These are:

  • Safe- the languages spoken by all generations and their intergenerational transmission is uninterrupted;
  • Vulnerable languages- are spoken by most children but may be restricted to certain domains;
  • Definitely endangered languages- are not learnt by children as their mother tongue.
  • Severely endangered - languages spoken by grandparents and older generations, while the parent generation may understand it, they may not speak it with the children or among themselves.
  • Critically endangered languages- languages of which the youngest speakers are the grandparents or older family members who may speak the language partially or infrequently
  • Extinct languages- languages with no speaker

As per UNESCO, roughly 57 per cent of the world’s estimated 6,000 languages are safe. About 10 per cent are vulnerable, 10.7 per cent are definitely endangered, about 9 per cent are severely endangered, 9.6 per cent are critically endangered and about 3.8 per cent of all languages are extinct since 1950.

As per the Endangered Languages Project (ELP), there are roughly 201 endangered languages in India and about 70 in Nepal.

Every language carries with it immense reserves of cultural, historical, ecological and botanical information, vital for local communities and to the world. As languages die, thousands of years of accumulated human knowledge, experience, creativity and evolution goes with them. Some languages fall silent due to genocide; others because of language planning, migration education policy, and persecution; and others for economic or cultural reasons. Hundreds of the world’s languages are down to just a few speakers.

The Endangered Language Alliance was founded in 2010. It is dedicated to supporting linguistic diversity and endangered languages in the New York City and beyond. The Endangered Language Alliance (ELA) was founded with the goal of working with immigrant and refugee populations in New York and other cities, helping them document and maintain their languages.