In fact, Mulam isn’t the only language in China that faces extinction. Many of the 130-plus languages of the 55 non-han ethnic groups face the same problem, according to data from the Research Center for Protecting the Language Resources of China.
The data show that 68 languages have fewer than 10,000 speakers; 48 have no more than 5,000; and 25 have 1,000 at most. The languages most at risk of extinction are Hezhen and Lhoba, each of which has fewer than 100 speakers.
“Language is the foundation and spirit of an ethnicity’s culture. To preserve culture and history, we must take necessary action to save those languages in danger,” said Ding Shiqing, Professor with the Minzu University of China (MUC) and Vice Director of the Research Center for the Protection of Chinese Ethnic Minority Languages.