Extinct languages

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Extinct languages

Postby Dillon D » Thu 14 Jan 2010 5:56 am

Now by extinct, I'm not talking about something like Latin or Aramaic or Sanskrit. I'm talking about languages so extinct that only a handful of people even know about them, much less actually speak them. A perfect example of this is Sogdian, which is why I actually created this topic in the first place.

On another topic, I (jokingly) suggested to Delodephius that we learn Sogdian, as is is our favorite abjad. Serali responded, that would be interesting! But where would we learn it from?

Now this topic isn't me asking 'where would we learn Sogdian?'. No, it's another opinion topic (and we all seem to have strong opinions :geek: ). What are your thoughts on learning these incredibly obscure languages? Should anyone even make the effort to study them? If no, what about preservation? Should these languages not be preserved, even if by one or two people?
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Re: Extinct languages

Postby Yaziq » Thu 28 Jan 2010 7:16 pm

Some extinct languages are just too far gone. Their whole cultural context has vanished. It's like trying to clone an extinct animal from an incomplete chain of DNA. But you can look for languages that are on the brink of extinction and see if the speakers are trying to maintain their own culture and traditions. Help them monetarily if you can spare the cash. I worry about the survival of such languages as Corsican, Luxembourgian, Burushaski, Gaelic, Wendish, Belarusian and a few others. If you want to prevent the world from becoming too homogenized, whatever efforts you decide to undertake will be well worth the effort.
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Re: Extinct languages

Postby linguoboy » Thu 28 Jan 2010 7:41 pm

Yaziq wrote:I worry about the survival of such languages as Corsican, Luxembourgian, Burushaski, Gaelic, Wendish, Belarusian and a few others. If you want to prevent the world from becoming too homogenized, whatever efforts you decide to undertake will be well worth the effort.

Those are the languages I don't worry about. They've got official recognition, ethnic solidarity among speakers, and significant cash dedicated to their preservation. It's the minor languages spoken by marginalised populations in developing countries that are dropping like flies these days.
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Re: Extinct languages

Postby Yaziq » Thu 28 Jan 2010 8:02 pm

I would think that Burushaski is endangered because it's a linguistic isolate in a developing country where internal strife is fairly high. How can you be confident about its future?
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Re: Extinct languages

Postby linguoboy » Thu 28 Jan 2010 9:00 pm

Yaziq wrote:I would think that Burushaski is endangered because it's a linguistic isolate in a developing country where internal strife is fairly high. How can you be confident about its future?

I only glanced and your list and didn't noticed that you'd slipped an isolated Asian language into a list that otherwise consists of European varieties with official recognition and support. Yes, Burushaski is exactly the kind of language I'm worried about.
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Re: Extinct languages

Postby Declan » Thu 28 Jan 2010 9:00 pm

I wonder what is the critical point? Personally I think languages with one or a few speakers, especially if isolated, are long dead and past the point of meaningful revival, because the speakers will have been influenced by a second language for too long. I would think that a small community (maybe 1000 or more?) that uses the language as their primary method of communication would certainly be able to be revived.
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Re: Extinct languages

Postby Abugida » Thu 11 Nov 2010 8:08 am

Don't be so pessimistic!

Look at Cornish and Manx!

But still. I think that a lot of languages need more support. Even Wu Chinese. The government in China is being very discriminatory to what it views as "non-Chinese", like the other forms of Chinese besides Mandarin and the Uighur culture and people.

Let's support languages like Haida and Nuosu!


Oscan and Umbrian are just freaking awesome!
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Thaana is awesome, no doubt about it.
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Re: Extinct languages

Postby vincan » Mon 03 Jan 2011 5:30 pm

try learning eyak... only one person was fluent in 2008 but with her help 4 people including me have learned the basics of eyak. Google Dr. krauss
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Re: Extinct languages

Postby linguoboy » Mon 03 Jan 2011 6:37 pm

Abugida wrote:Don't be so pessimistic!

Look at Cornish and Manx!

Yes, look at them: the Cornish-speaking community has been riven by internal dissension from its early days, greatly hampering the use of the language in education, and Manx has the most anglicised pronunciation of any Celtic language I've heard. Irish is heading down the same road--I seldom hear /rʲ/ from learners and even /rˠ/ is frequently realised as a retroflex approximant. Not to mention how genuine Irish idioms are disappearing under a tide of translatese.
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Re: Extinct languages

Postby Delodephius » Tue 04 Jan 2011 12:00 am

Dillon D wrote:Now by extinct, I'm not talking about something like Latin or Aramaic or Sanskrit. I'm talking about languages so extinct that only a handful of people even know about them, much less actually speak them. A perfect example of this is Sogdian, which is why I actually created this topic in the first place.


Let's, from the top of my head without looking at my extensive list of dead, classical and sacred languages, I'd say:
Hittite, Luwian, Tocharian, Elamite, Sumerian, Akkadian, Eblaite, Hurrite, Urartian, Old Persian, Parthian, Gandhari, Tangut, Old Nubian, Polabian, Old Novgorodian, etc.

I'm not sure about all of them (how many people speak them? are most of these people merely experts? is there enough literature for the language to be adequately reconstructed? etc.)
There are also languages, like Ancient Egyptian, of which most people have heard but are only studied by a very few people.
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