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Speakers of endangered languages converge on Mall

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Photo -   FILE - In this July 3, 2011 file photo, Paul Shaw, 5, paints during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington. According to Smithsonian curators, about half of the world's 7,105 languages are reported as endangered. Of those, 3,524 languages, spoken by fewer than 10,000 people each, are used by just 0.1 percent of the world’s population. Festival coordinators expect more than 1 million people will attend this year's event, which began Wednesday, June 26, 2013. It runs through Sunday and resumes July 3-7 with special concerts most evenings. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez, File)
FILE - In this July 3, 2011 file photo, Paul Shaw, 5, paints during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington. According to Smithsonian curators, about half of the world's 7,105 languages are reported as endangered. Of those, 3,524 languages, spoken by fewer than 10,000 people each, are used by just 0.1 percent of the world’s population. Festival coordinators expect more than 1 million people will attend this year's event, which began Wednesday, June 26, 2013. It runs through Sunday and resumes July 3-7 with special concerts most evenings. (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez, File)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — A group of eight musicians and craftsmen have traveled more than 6,000 miles from their home in southern Siberia to Washington in hopes of saving their culture from slow extinction.

They're among the decreasing number of people from the Tuva Republic who speak Tuvan, one of more than a dozen endangered idioms represented at the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.

The festival's program is drawing attention to languages on the verge of extinction by bringing native speakers to Washington to explain the challenges of passing their linguistic heritage on to younger generations.

The Smithsonian's K. David Harrison says many cultures are under social and economic pressure to abandon their idioms and switch to global languages such as Mandarin, Spanish and English.

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