Trinidad and Tobago Endangered Languages

This project focuses on three heritage languages of Trinidad & Tobago: Patois (a.k.a. Trinidadian French Creole), Trinidad & Tobago Sign Language (TTSL), and Trinidadian Hindustani (a.k.a. Caribbean Bhojpuri). For an overview, listen to a presentation on the diversity of endangered languages in Trinidad and Tobago.

UNESCO estimates that 43% of the world’s roughly 7,000 languages are in danger of extinction. Other estimates are even higher. This represents a catastrophic loss of human cultural heritage, comparable in scale and significance to threats to biological diversity. In the Caribbean, language loss has already happened on a huge scale. Already many languages have been lost, and many more are currently in immediate danger of disappearing.

In 2010, the Government of Trinidad & Tobago ratified UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (CSICH). On 14 January 2011, the Charter on Language Policy and Language Rights in the Creole-Speaking Caribbean was signed in Kingston by a number of government representatives and linguists at the first International Conference on Caribbean Language Policy. The Conference was hosted by the International Centre for Caribbean Language Research (ICCLR) and the Jamaican Language Unit (JLU), both of UWI, which started the Caribbean Indigenous and Endangered Languages project in 2007 in conjunction with UNESCO.