Languages have been coming and going for thousands of years, but in recent times there has been less coming and a lot more going. When the world was still populated by hunter-gatherers, small, tightly knit(联系) groups developed their own patterns of speech independent of each other. Some language experts believe that 10,000 years ago, when the world had just five to ten million people, they spoke perhaps 12,000 languages between them.
Soon afterwards, many of those people started settling down to become farmers, and their languages too became more settled and fewer in number. In recent centuries, trade, industrialisation, the development of the nation-state and the spread of universal compulsory education, especially globalisation and better communications in the past few decades, all have caused many languages to disappear, and dominant languages such as English, Spanish and Chinese are increasingly taking over.