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Meet Marie, the Last Remaining Person on Earth Fluent in Wukchumni

The 82-year-old made her own dictionary in an effort to preserve her endangered language

Eighty-two year old Marie Wilcox is the last remaining person on earth fluent in Wukchumni. Tucked away in her San Joaquin Valley home, the determined elder spends her time recording the 3,000-year-old language of her ancestors in her very own dictionary and teaching classes to a handful of tribe members. In the short documentary Marie’s Dictionary filmmaker Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee follows Wilcox as she devotes herself to preserving her culture.

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Google Wants to Protect 3,000 Endangered Languages

The Endangered Languages Project is a dynamic online archive designed strengthen and re-invigorate languages that may not be long for the planet.

According to some estimates, there are at least 87 languages that are completely extinct. These languages aren’t "dead," which is how we characterize languages that are preserved or practiced in some form, like ancient Greek. They're simply no longer in use at all. What’s worse, while there are around 6,000 or 7,000 languages spoken around the world today, scholars estimate that fifty percent of those languages will not survive the turn of the century. That's around 3,000 languages that will likely be wiped out in the coming decades. That’s a frightening rate of decline, and one that has almost certainly been hastened by explosive globalization, the internet, and the growing dominance of English, Chinese, and Spanish.

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