Laz linguist Ismail Bucaklisi was quoted by Aljazeera as saying that he realized the Laz language was in danger of extinction when he traveled from Istanbul to Turkey and observed that children were no longer speaking in Laz. Instead, most children spoke in Turkish, as it was the language that their parents taught them. Ismail then went ahead to put together a Laz dictionary in an effort to preserve the language. The Turkish government has not provided any public support for the language. This has resulted in many minority languages, including Laz, to slowly move towards extinction as Turkish becomes more popular. Laz language advocates have petitioned the Turkish government to set up an institute that will help in the preservation of the language. They also want the language to be taught in schools and used as place names.
Laz is classified as a critically endangered language by UNESCO. There are 30,000 native speakers of the language. Speakers can be found in northeast Turkey and in Georgia. Laz is closely related to the Mingrelian language. Even though the two languages are not mutually intelligible, they are both dialects of the Zan family of languages. Laz is a South Caucasian language. Laz is written using the Latin alphabet in Turkey, while the Georgian alphabet is used in Georgia. There is no standard way of writing it. Since the language does not have an official status in Turkey and Georgia, it is mostly used for casual interaction. When it comes to formal situations, the native speakers use the national languages of the countries they live in. This means that the younger generation does not acquire the language but only gains a passive knowledge of it.
There are minor differences between the different Laz dialects, even though the level of mutual intelligibility is low. This and the fact that there is no standard form of Laz has caused many Laz speakers to prefer to talk to each other in Turkish. Most Laz speakers are bilingual. They either speak Turkey and Laz or Georgian and Laz. Even in villages that are in deep rural areas and occupied only by Laz speakers, it is quite common to hear people have conversations in Georgian or Turkish.