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Tongues of Tradition: AAPI Heritage Month Spotlights Endangered Languages

Updated: May 6


Asian girl on a beach

Did you know? May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! This year, let's celebrate the lesser-known languages that make these communities unique! 


Why Minor Languages Are Worth Preserving


A language is much more than communication—it's a cultural expression that carries stories, traditions, and identities. That's why it's crucial to recognize many local and regional languages are in danger.


So let's bring awareness and appreciation to these endangered languages! Here's a shoutout to a few:


🌺 Ainu (Japan): A nearly extinct language, Ainu is only spoken by a few elderly members of the Ainu people on the island of Hokkaido. 


🌴 Chamorro (Guam, Northern Mariana Islands): Spoken by about 58,000 people, Chamorro has a significant Spanish influence due to three centuries of colonial rule. 


🏝 Fijian (Fiji): An Austronesian language, Fijian is the native language of about 340,00 people, and the second language of 320,000. 


🌊 Hawaiian: An official language of Hawaii, 2,000 people claim Hawaiian as their native tongue and 22,000 to 24,000 speak it as a second language.


🌸 Hmong (China, Southeast Asia): About 2.7 million people speak a dialect of Hmong, including around 280,000 people in the U.S. 


🍍 Marshallese (Marshall Islands): The principal language of the Marshall Islands, nearly all of the country's 59,000 residents speak it. 


🎋 Samoan (Samoan Islands): The most widely spoken Polynesian language, Samoan is the native tongue of roughly 510,000 people throughout the Samoan Islands, New Zealand, and the U.S. 


🌴 Tahitian (French Polynesia): Spoken by about 68,00 people, Tahitian had no written tradition until missionaries transcribed it in the early 1800s. 


🌊 Tongan (Tonga): Another Austronesian language, Tongan is spoken by about 187,000 people in Tonga, and 73,000 throughout the New Zealand, Australia and the U.S. 


Are there any languages you’d add to this list? Let me know in the comments! 

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