573 extinct languages were found in the linguistlist.org database.
Several factors usually combine to cause or contribute to the loss of a language―war, disease, famine, natural disasters, displacement, genocide, politics… In some cases, it happens quickly, while in others, it is a slow process until the language ceases to be used. Some languages are only alive in their written form, but have ceased to be spoken. It is not impossible for that to happen again, as many emerging economies prefer the use of English as their official language. This is the main danger that Yoruba language faces, especially among Yoruba in diaspora.
Yoruba are among Africa’s most educated and literate people, and are among erudite educators, literati, and leaders around the world. Yoruba in English-speaking countries would speak English at work and at home to their children, which seems to make sense. However, the children grow up speaking only English, knowing only English idioms, and they have no use for the Yoruba language. In one generation, the language is dead. This scenario is repeated over and over all around the world, where Yoruba have migrated to.
My projects and thesis is to help give voice to the language again, using design as the vehicle. I have created a Yoruba typeface―an adaptation of an existing font, 20 posters and print materials, an app prototype, and an online portal to promote the learning, understanding, and use of the language. Beyond that, the website is a story-gathering tool to collect and present the Yoruba narrative in new light.