December 14, 2020

Busuu, Language Status: Extinct

Busuu was a language from Cameroun. In 1986, it was reported there were just 8 speakers left and UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, had classified the language as ‘critically endangered’.

Per UNESCO, There are six degrees of language vitality and endangerment, they are:



Definitely Endangered

Severely Endangered

Critically Endangered


This framework is further based on nine factors, which include:

– Absolute number of speakers

– Intergenerational language transmission

– Community member’s attitudes towards their own language

– Shifts in domains of language use

– Governmental and institutional language attitudes and policies, including official status and use

– Type and quality of documentation

– Response to new domains and media

– Availability of materials for language education and literacy

– Proportion of materials for language education and literacy

– Proportion of speakers within the total population and

– Absolute number of speakers

However, of these nine factors, the most salient one used in assessing the status of a language is that of intergenerational language transmission. Linguists agree that for a language to retain its vitality and thrive, the drive has to come from the people who speak it, pride in the language needs to keep on being passed down from one generation to the next.

When Busuu language was classified as ‘critically endangered’ in 1986, under the UNESCO framework, it meant the youngest speakers were grandparents and older, and they spoke the language partially and infrequently.

Today, Busuu is classified as extinct, which means there are no speakers left.

According to Ethnologue, since 1950, a total of 348 languages have gone extinct worldwide and there are about 2,895 endangered languages.

Fun fact – did you know the language learning platform, Busuu.com was named after the Camerounian language, Busuu?

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