In the bustle of daily life, how often do we ignore the disappearance of world culture?
Hundreds of languages disappeared from Latin America and the Caribbean over the past 500 years, and many of the more than 600 that have survived could face the same fate in the not-so-distant future.
United Nations agencies and many experts maintain that it is an avoidable tragedy, but there are those who see it as the inherent fate of all but a few languages.
Faced with Western culture and the dominant presence of Spanish, Portuguese and English in the Americas, indigenous languages like Kiliwua in Mexico, Ona and Puelche in Argentina, Amanayé in Brazil, Záparo in Ecuador and Mashco-Piro in Peru, are just barely surviving, the result of their continued use by small groups of people – most of whom are elderly.
But there are others like Quichua, Aymara, Guaraní, Maya and Náhuatl whose future looks a bit rosier, because overall these languages are spoken by more than 10 million people and governments support their survival through various educational, cultural and social programmes.
Around the globe there are some 7,000 languages in use, but each year 20 disappear. Furthermore, half of the existing languages are threatened, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).