How to discover

The World Atlas of Languages offers the opportunity to explore the world’s linguistic diversity by focusing on the language landscape and on specific languages in single or multiple countries, as well as across regions worldwide.  

Discover the World Atlas of Languages by two main dimensions:  

  • Language  

  • Languages in countries 

User can navigate the different profiles by exploring the different descriptors (35), which supply general information on each language, including: 

  • Status 

  • State 

  • Users 

  • Usage 

These descriptors document the lived reality of a language in all its spatial, temporal, modal, and causal aspects, thus taking into account the constantly changing historical, geographical, functional, political and social dimensions.  

The World Atlas of Languages also proposes as the two most relevant indicators: 

  • Dominance: a language is dominant if it prevails in formal public domains. 

  • Endangerment: A language is endangered if it is at risk of falling into disuse. 

In the World Atlas of Languages, a situation of languages is categorized according to different levels of endangerment. The situation of language (endangerment level) not only changes over time but may also show differences or variations, determined by geography, at the same time. A language may be safe in Country A but endangered in neighbouring Country B. In the UNESCO World Atlas of Languages, the highest level of endangerment to the language description would be assigned rather to a particular ‘language window’ (absolute), mentioning diverging evaluations in the corresponding ‘country window’ (relative).  

In the context of the World Atlas of Languages, linguistic diversity has to be understood as the current distribution of natural human languages in the world. UNESCO has developed a comprehensive methodology for the assessment of linguistic diversity status around the world as a part of the Organization’s commitment and contribution to the promotion of linguistic diversity and multilingualism.