Nepal’s Seke ‘near-extinct’: The six degrees of endangerment of a language

News:Recently, several newspapers have reported that the near-extinct Nepalese language ‘Seke’ has just 700 speakers around the world.


About Seke Language:

  • Seke means golden language.It is one of the over 100 indigenous languages of Nepal.
  • It is mainly spoken in the five villages of Chuksang, Chaile, Gyakar, Tangbe and Tetang in the Upper Mustang district.
  • The dialects from these villages differ substantially and are believed to have varying degrees of mutual intelligibility.
  • However,there are just 700 or so Seke speakers left in the world.Of these,100 are in New York,USA,
  • The Seke language has been retreating due to Nepali which is Nepal’s official language and is considered to be crucial for getting educational and employment opportunities outside villages.
  • Hence,Seke may be considered to be a definitely endangered language under UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger.
  • Further,as per the Endangered Languages Project (ELP),there are roughly 201 endangered languages in India and about 70 in Nepal.

About UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger:

  • UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger is a tool to raise awareness about language endangerment and the need to safeguard the world’s linguistic diversity.
  • According to the criteria adopted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO),a language becomes extinct when nobody speaks or remembers the language.
  • The UNESCO has categorized languages on basis of endangerment as follows:

About Endangered Languages Project(ELP):

  • The Endangered Languages Project(ELP) is a worldwide collaboration between indigenous language organizations, linguists and industry partners to strengthen endangered languages.The foundation of the project was launched in 2012.
  • The project aims to foster exchange of information related to at-risk languages and accelerate endangered language research and documentation, to support communities engaged in protecting or revitalizing their languages.