24 native languages in Colombia at risk of extinction

The Culture Ministry of Colombia said on Wednesday that 19 native languages in the country are at serious risk of extinction and five others are almost disappearing.

The Tinigua is the most vulnerable language because it has only one speaker who lives in the department of Meta, followed by the Nonuya with three speakers and the Carijona, the Pisamira, and the Totoro with no more than 50 speakers apiece.

Leader of the Kogi indigenous community Jose Flores told Xinhua that this phenomenon was very difficult to control due to the continuous forced displacement of indigenous communities to the cities amid armed conflict.

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“It is very sad that we can not be able to pass our language and culture to new generations, but here in this city it is very complicated. The kids are embarrassed to speak their language, but we want to teach it,” Flores said.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture, through its Program for Protection of the Ethno linguistic Diversity (PPDE), seeks strategies to save the extinction of languages which contain all the history and culture of these communities.

“They are the result of adaptation of human groups who entered the country over the past 15 to 20 thousand years and represent, therefore, a cultural, spiritual and a priceless memory for Colombians,” the Ministry said in a statement.

In Colombia, there are 65 indigenous-American languages and two Creole languages developed by communities of African descents in San Basilio de Palenque, Bolivar, and the islands of San Andres and Providencia.

In addition to these native languages, there is the “Romani” language from the gypsies which has Indo-European origins and it is now spoken by at least 6,000 people in Colombia.

– Xinhua

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