Welcome to the 18th edition!

In recognition of International Mother Language Day, we are happy to be able to update the Ethnologue to its 18th edition.  Mother Language Day, February 21, reminds the world of the importance of the lesser-known languages of the world and that has been a particular area of focus of the Ethnologue since its inception. We're happy to be able to provide the most up-to-date information about the languages of the world on this day.

Now that we are on an annual update cycle and providing the data online, we have more confidence than ever that the data we report represent an accurate, though still not complete, picture of the state of the world's languages.  This edition is the result of more than 12,000 individual changes to our database with 4,447 of the languages being affected by those edits. Not all of those edits result in substantive changes to the data, of course, as we continue to refine the way we present the data resulting in some changes that are purely typographical. For this edition we focused primarily on the languages of Africa and benefitted as well from a thorough review of our data on Deaf Sign Languages in Africa and Europe. Actually, any feedback we received this past year for any language in the world was considered as we made updates.

The most commonly requested and cited statistic from the Ethnologue is the tally of living languages.  That number has gone down slightly with this edition from 7,106 in the 17th edition to 7,102 in the 18th.  That change reflects changes in the ISO 639-3 inventory of languages which added 13 languages in its latest revision at the end of 2014 while removing 17 languages. The latter include 11 that were merged with other languages and 6 that were removed because they were duplicates or could not be substantiated as ever having been a language

Another important statistic is the number of extinct languages that are identified and reported on by the Ethnologue. We don't attempt to list all of the extinct, ancient, and classical languages of the world.  We do report on languages that are what we call "recently extinct," that is, those that have gone out of use since the Ethnologue research project began in the early 1950s.  Those languages are listed as EGIDS 10 Extinct in the Language Status category. In this edition we identify 367 extinct languages, which somewhat surprisingly is 6 fewer than we reported in the 17th edition one year ago. This can be attributed in large measure to the reclassification of some languages to EGIDS 9 (Dormant) based on new data we have received and to the removal of some languages which were long-extinct but remained in our database until now. 

This edition also expands our coverage of the world by including separate entries for two additional countries--the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey. In addition, we have added new maps for Austria and Georgia and expanded and improved several other maps.

Along with these updates and improvements to the website, we have updated all of the country reports and the Global Dataset.  The three regional volumes, which will be released in short order, will also be updated and include all of the 18th edition data and additional features.

And we're not done yet!  While we continue to work diligently to research the languages of the world, we can benefit from our users who are familiar with specific countries and languages. We value your input and feedback and we encourage you to register, create a profile, and provide us with corrections, suggestions, and updates using the Feedback tab on each country and language page online.

On Mother Language Day, we hope you will be able to find YOUR mother language (or perhaps that of one of your ancestors) in the Ethnologue and celebrate the linguistic diversity that surrounds us.


Submitted by John Cowan on Sat, 2015-02-21 16:19
Now that Jersey and Guernsey are represented separately, French should be removed from the languages of the UK (and added as an immigrant language).
Submitted by mplewis on Sun, 2015-02-22 07:25
Thanks for your comment, John. This may indeed be something we need to "clean up". However, we think there may well be at least a small "long-established multigenerational community" of L1 speakers of French resident in the United Kingdom. It is certainly true that the large majority of L1 speakers of French that we had previously counted in the UK are the speakers of the newly recognized Norman French spoken in the bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey and, as we now report, that there are a large number of L2 speakers within Britain. We will try to get more information and revise our reporting accordingly.
Submitted by Christina Faber on Sun, 2015-02-22 02:14
Wonderful! However, it looks like you need to regenerate the index pages. For instance http://www.ethnologue.com/subgroups/unclassified contains a dead link to the deleted Imeraguen page.
Submitted by mplewis on Sun, 2015-02-22 07:28
Thanks for pointing this out, Christina. We'll see what went wrong and fix it as quickly as possible. Lots of details to attend to in this transition. As this is the first time we've done this with our new web platform, we're learning!
Submitted by cyril_franchomme on Mon, 2015-02-23 14:08
Why do you still use the Francophonie 2007 edition when the 2010 and 2014 are available ?
Submitted by Ezekiel Bolaji on Thu, 2015-02-26 08:01
How do I get the 18th edition in Lagos,Nigeria?
Submitted by mplewis on Fri, 2015-02-27 10:02
The 18th edition data is freely available online. Click on World Languages (or the world map) at the top of the home page and you can navigate to any country in which you are interested. If you are interested in a specific country, you can purchase and download the country report for that country. All of the country reports have been updated with 18th edition data, maps, statistical summaries, and indexes. The print volumes for the 18th edition are not yet available (but are anticipated to be ready "shortly"). I'm not sure what the best distribution channel would be for you. I'm told that there are multiple booksellers who can make the volumes available. I'd suggest you contact your preferred book distributor and ask them if they can obtain the Ethnologue volumes. The 17th edition volumes continue to be available for purchase and if your distributor can find those, they will be able to provide you with the 18th edition volumes as they are released.
Submitted by Ethnologue Editor on Thu, 2015-02-26 16:24
For this edition of the Ethnologue, we used the Francophonie 2007 because (1) this particular edition was most useful to us in terms of the way it presented the data and (2) we did not have access to the 2014 edition at the time. We will be taking a look at the 2014 edition for this publication cycle (19th edition).