You may consider yourself well travelled, but did you know that throughout Europe there are many minority languages at risk of being lost and forgotten? Most you have probably never heard of, and they certainly aren’t ones that we commonly work with on voice-over and audio translation jobs, but the truth is, there are hundreds of languages that have declined over the centuries and are now at risk of becoming extinct. Whether they can be saved for the future or not is another question that only time will answer. These are just five European languages that still exist with only a few native speakers left in the world.
1. Pite Sami
This language of the Sami people sadly has only 20 to 50 speakers left, making this a critically endangered language. It is only spoken along the Swedish border of the Pite River in northern Arjepog. Pite Sami is now completely obsolete in Norway and because there are very few written examples of the language, there is no documented way to sustain it.
Spoken by the Karaim people who inhabit Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine, Karaim is only spoken by 60 people. Centred around the town of Trakai in Lithuania, the language has seen a recent boost to its existence thanks to growing tourism in the area.
In the town of Wilamowice in Poland, this West Germanic language is now only spoken by about 70 to 100 people. The majority of these native speakers are now elderly, so there are few locals who will continue to use it.
4. Inari Sami
This language is spoken by a group of Sami people who live around Lake Inari in Finland. With only 300 speakers left, Inari Sami is a severely endangered language. It is entirely limited to Finland and because very few children learn the language, it is at risk of completely dying out.
Although Friulian is a dying language it is still spoken by about 300,000 people, mainly Italians. Dating as far back as the 11th Century, this language is mostly centred around the Friuli region in north eastern Italy, although immigrants have taken the language as far as Canada and Australia.