No one knows for sure how many languages exist and have existed in the world, since scientists are not united in their opinion. But according to statistics, 4% of the world’s population speaks 96% of all languages, while other languages are widely spoken – for example, Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi and Urdu, Russian, French, Swahili and others. In the modern cosmopolitan world, there is a rather unpleasant tendency – by the middle of this century, hundreds of languages will disappear and there are fears that 80-90% of the world’s languages are endangered. It should also be noted the fact of the amazing illiteracy of the 21st century – almost a billion of the world’s population does not know how to write and read normally but use latin to english translator.
According to UNESCO, more than 50% of all languages worldwide are endangered, and on average one language disappears every two weeks. If one language is lost, humanity loses most of its knowledge about the culture, customs and traditions of this people. It is difficult to say exactly when a particular language disappeared, but for some languages it is known exactly when the last active native speaker died. This is the date of the disappearance of a particular language.
We present to our readers 3 extinct languages and briefly talk about their last speakers.
Extinct Language: Cornish (Cornish)
Last native speaker: Dolly Pentrite (? – 1777), England
Cornish was once native to the local population of Cornwall, a peninsula in the southwest of Great Britain. By the time the Romans ruled the island, the Celts lived here. The local population spoke the Celtic language, the last monolingual speaker of which was Dolly Pentrit. The Cornish was officially declared queen in 2002 and since the early 20th century there have been attempts to bring the language back through bilingual Britons. The difference between them and Dolly Pentrit is that they know two languages - Cornish and English, both of which are learned from childhood, while Dolly learned English as an adult. It is believed that her last words were: “I do not want to speak English!” She was a kind of character for her time – people describe her as a person who often uses curses and constantly smokes a pipe, some even think of her as a witch. In particular, there was information about Dolly’s adored swearing kronnekyn hager du, which people were especially afraid of. Some scholars say that Dolly Pentrite is not the last representative of this language and insist that in fact, the Cornish language has never completely disappeared from the face of the Earth.
Extinct Language: Manx
Last native speaker: Edward (Ned) Maddrell (circa 1878 – 1974), Isle of Man (UK)
As with Dolly and Ned, there is some controversy over whether he is the last representative of his language, Manx. It was the official language of the Isle of Man population until the mid-19th century. The Isle of Man is located in the archipelago of the British Isles, between Great Britain and Ireland – in the 13th century the island was part of Scotland and today remains the property of the United Kingdom. The area was once inhabited by Celts and from the 9th century onwards the Normans began to settle there. Maine is part of the Galician languages, from which some modern languages such as Irish, Scottish and Cornish are derived. These languages have no connection with English, which is part of another group.
As for Ned Maddrell, he is a fisherman from Crangnis who traveled extensively, but ended his life on the Isle of Man, where he was studied by language researchers. Attempts are now being made to restore the lost language, at least in part, even at the Bunscoill Ghaelgagh school. Although it is likely that now we are talking about the so-called New Men, this language, according to scientists, appeared after Ned Maddrell.
Extinct Language: Yana
Last native speaker: Ishi (1860 – 1916), USA
The Yana language was spoken by the Yaqui Indians living in the territory of modern California. Ishi was the last representative of both the language and the tribe. His name is a pseudonym, which means “man” in his native language. In Indian society, it was considered taboo to speak real names.
His story is not at all happy – when his family was killed, he began to hide. A group of hunters find him. Several documentaries and feature films have been made about his life to cover many aspects of Indian life. Ishi died of tuberculosis in 1916. Thanks to the efforts of linguist Edward Sapir, Yang’s language is relatively well documented compared to many other lost languages in North America.