10 Extinct Languages in the USA

When I was a wee undergrad, I remember a professor in my class saying that in biology, "extinction is the name of the game."

Sadly, it seems that this rule of thumb also extends to language: linguists have argued that half of the world's 6,000 languages will be lost this century.

Our pal mental_floss has an intriguing post about such 10 languages that have gone extinct in the United States in the past few decades alone:

1. The Eyak language was spoken near the mouth of the Copper River in Alaska up until about two days ago. January 21 was the day that Marie Smith Jones died, the last known full-blooded Eyak and the only person known to be fluent in the language. She tried to help preserve it by creating a dictionary so others could learn it someday. Although Marie had nine children, none of them learned the language because it was considered improper to speak anything but English at the time.

2. Yana was last spoken in north-central California about 95 years ago by the Yahi people. The last native speaker went by the name Ishi, and, like Marie Smith Jones, was instrumental in preserving the language (with help from linguist-anthropologist Edward Sapir). Ishi and his family were around during the Three Knolls Massacre of 1865, which killed off about half of the remaining Yahi people. The rest of them slowly died off, and when Ishi (which means “man” in Yana) succumbed to tuberculosis in 1916, that was the end of the spoken language. Ishi’s story has been featured in several books and movies.

Link - via i met a possum


Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

;____;

The Hawaiian language was treated pretty much in the same fashion. Forced not to speak the language and eventually leaving a huge generational gap in the language. Now days the language has been downplayed to "hobby" as it has no financial benefit.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
The definition of a dead language is one which has no native speakers. Latin, for example, is a dead language. It is still read and even spoken, but mainly in religious contexts.

I wouldn't worry about English being on that list any time soon.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Language is not only a description of a culture, but the words uniquely describe a peoples mental process, their way of thinking. When we allow a language to go extinct we lose the ability to understand and learn from the culmination of ideals and values accumulated from many generations of human beings.
As we exit (Babylon) Iraq, the world's nations could donate to build an international library of languages in Baghdad that would preserve and study all of the languages of the world. An international library of languages could ensure that no language could be lost to extinction and each society understood for their unique contribution to the human experience.
An international library of languages could be the worlds gift to Iraq that would serve to begin the restoration of a great civilization and be the catalyst of a new era of ideas, communication, and peace.
Thank you.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
You can have all the books you want on languages but if there is no education, motivation or standards in the school system then many languages will be extinct. More recently due to economic budget cuts and red tape, the Italian AP courses were dissolved in schools across the country. Now, we are faced with a complete extinction of the Italian language where in a country (USA) a large portion of cultural heritage is Italian-American.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Commenting is closed.





Check out Twaggies' very funny clip:

Om Nom - Twaggies by Twaggies
Email This Post to a Friend
"10 Extinct Languages in the USA"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.

 

Success! Your email has been sent!

close window