Every year, more and more languages go extinct, and our planet’s linguistic diversity, just like its natural diversity, is at risk of slipping into the past. Globalization is making it harder for minority languages to survive in the face of a handful of hegemonic super-tongues, even as the science of how languages are acquired and tools for doing so are becoming more advanced, and the internet offers new means of connecting and teaching the next generation.

In Speak Not: Empire, identity and the politics of language, journalist James Griffiths reports from the frontlines of the battle to preserve our linguistic heritage, from his native Wales, to Hawaii, southern China and Hong Kong, exploring how languages hang on, what happens when they don’t, and how minority tongues can be preserved and brought back from the brink.

Speak Not will be published by Zed Books in 2021. If you are involved in language research or in preserving minority languages, please feel free to email James Griffiths.

Graphic by Natalie Leung/CNN

Graphic by Natalie Leung/CNN