Universal scenes of experience & the emergence of grammar

Today there are between 6,000 and 8,000 languages spoken in the world, depending, amongst other things, on how one distinguishes a ‘dialect’ from a ‘language’—social and political considerations are often wont to intervene. Of these extant languages, around 82% are spoken by populations of less than 100,000 people, 39% are spoken by less than 10,000 people, and 8% of the world’s languages are considered to be endangered, with one language dying out around every 10 days or so, on some estimates. Prior to 1492, with Christopher Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas marking the beginning of western imperialism by European kingdoms, there were probably twice as many languages as there are today. And projecting backwards through time, there may have existed as many as half a million languages in total, since the advent of Homo sapiens, some 200,000 or so years ago.

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