List of last known speakers of languages

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Any language is determined to be an extinct language when the last native or fluent speaker of that language dies.

There are some 500 languages out of a total of 6,000 being classified as nearly extinct because "only a few elderly speakers are still living".[1]

Last known speakers of languages[edit]

Last known speakers of languages
Name Born Died Language Taxonomy Notes
Marchant, ChestenChesten Marchant unknown 1676 Cornish (last monoglot speaker) Indo-EuropeanCelticInsular CelticBrittonic [notes 1]
McMurray, MargaretMargaret McMurray unknown 1760 Galwegian dialect, Scottish Gaelic Indo-European – Celtic – Insular Celtic – Goidelic – Scottish Gaelic
Pentreath, DollyDolly Pentreath unknown 1777 Cornish (traditionally known as the last fluent native speaker; disputed)[2] Indo-European – Celtic – Insular Celtic – Brittonic [notes 2]
Shanawdithit 1801c. 1801 1829 Beothuk unclassified
Sutherland, WalterWalter Sutherland unknown 1850c. 1850 Norn Indo-European – GermanicNorth Germanic – West Scandinavian
Juana Maria unknown 1853 Nicoleño Uto-AztecanNorthernTakic (unclassified beyond the Takic family)
Nikonha 1765c. 1765 1871 Tutelo SiouanWestern Siouan – Ohio Valley Siouan – Virginia Siouan [notes 3]
Manzura Uldjabaeva 1952 living J'Kabaro Eurasian
Trugernanner 1812c. 1812 1876 an unidentified Tasmanian language unknown; there were multiple language families in Tasmania [notes 4]
Davey, JohnJohn Davey 1812 1891 Cornish (some knowledge) Indo-European – Celtic – Insular Celtic – Brittonic [notes 5]
Udaina, TuoneTuone Udaina 1823 1898 Dalmatian Indo-European – ItalicRomanceItalo-Dalmatian
Smith, Fanny CochraneFanny Cochrane Smith 1834 1905 an unidentified Tasmanian language unknown; there were multiple language families in Tasmania [notes 6]
Fielding, FideliaFidelia Fielding 1827 1908 Mohegan-Pequot AlgicAlgonquianEastern Algonquian
Toney, SantuSantu Toney 1835 1910c. 1910 Beothuk (some knowledge) unclassified [notes 7]
Mann, JohnJohn Mann 1834 1914c. 1914 Cornish (extent of proficiency unclear) Indo-European – Celtic – Insular Celtic – Brittonic [notes 8]
Ishi 1860c. 1860 1916 Yana language isolate [notes 9]
Noble, SallySally Noble unknown 1922 Chimariko language isolate
Solorsano, AscencionAscencion Solorsano unknown 1930 Mutsun Yok-UtianUtianOhlone/Costanoan – Southern [5]
Johnson, FrancesFrances Johnson unknown 1934 Takelma language isolate
Trruúlmani unknown 1934 Puelche Chon
Watt Sam and Nancy Raven unknown late 1930s Natchez language isolate
Meadows, IsabelIsabel Meadows 1846 1939 Rumsen Yok-Utian – Utian – Ohlone/Costanoan – Southern
Decloux, DelphineDelphine Decloux 1871 1940 Chitimacha language isolate
Youchigant, SesostrieSesostrie Youchigant unknown 1940s Tunica language isolate
Nalig, JamesJames Nalig 1870sc. 1870s 1954 Utaha Austronesian – Malayo-PolynesianSouthern OceanicOceanic [6]
Yee, MaryMary Yee 1897 1965 Barbareño Chumashan – Southern – Central [notes 10]
Maddrell, NedNed Maddrell 1877 1974 Manx Indo-European – Celtic – Insular Celtic – Goidelic [notes 11]
Loij, ÁngelaÁngela Loij 1900c. 1900 1974 Selk’nam[notes 12] Chon
Lunel, ArmandArmand Lunel 1892 1977 Shuadit (Jewish dialect of Occitan) Indo-European – Italic – Romance – WesternIbero-RomanceOccitan
Palmer, AlfAlf Palmer 1891c. 1891 1981 Warrungu Pama-NyunganMaric
Butler, JackJack Butler 1901 1986 Jiwarli dialect, Mantharta Pama-Nyungan – Kanyara–Mantharta – Mantharta
Nolasquez, RoscindaRoscinda Nolasquez 1892 1987 Cupeño Uto-Aztecan – Northern – Takic – Cupan – Cahuilla-Cupeño
Plotnikova, KlavdiyaKlavdiya Plotnikova 1895c. 1895 1989 Kamassian UralicSamoyedic – Core Samoyedic – Kamas–Selkup
Munro, MorndiMorndi Munro unknown 1990s Unggumi dialect, Worrorra Worrorran – Western – Worrorra
Bernat, FidelaFidela Bernat 1898 1991 Roncalese (Erronkarriko) dialect, Basque Basque is a language isolate
Esenç, TevfikTevfik Esenç 1904 1992 Ubykh Northwest Caucasian
Asai, TakeTake Asai 1901c. 1901 1994 Sakhalin Ainu Ainu
Paterson, AlgyAlgy Paterson unknown 1995 Martuthunira Pama-Nyungan – Ngayarta
Dailey, Truman WashingtonTruman Washington Dailey 1898 1996 Otoe-Missouria dialect, Chiwere Siouan – Western Siouan – Mississippi Valley – Chiwere–Winnebago – Chiwere
Vyie unknown 1997 Sirenik Eskimo Eskimo-Aleut – Eskimo – Yupik?
Charles, CarmelCarmel Charles 1912 1999 Nyulnyul NyulnyulanWestern
Neidjie, Big BillBig Bill Neidjie 1920c. 1920 2002 Gaagudju Arnhem
Jones, Marie SmithMarie Smith Jones 1918 2008 Eyak Na-Dené – Athabascan-Eyak
Ms. Boro unknown 2009 Aka-Kora Great Andamanese – Northern
Rozario, WilliamWilliam Rozario unknown 2010 Cochin Indo-Portuguese creole Portuguese CreoleIndo-Portuguese Creoles
Pan Jin-yu 1914 2010 Pazeh AustronesianNorthwest Formosan
Boa Sr. 1925c. 1925 2010 Aka-Bo Great Andamanese – Northern
Hogg, BobbyBobby Hogg 1920 2012 Cromarty fisher dialect, Scots Indo-European – Germanic – West GermanicAnglo-FrisianAnglic
Kristiņa, GrizeldaGrizelda Kristiņa 1910 2013 Livonian Uralic – Finnic [notes 13]
Sampson, HazelHazel Sampson 1911 2014 Klallam North Straits Salishan LanguagesSalishan Languages [notes 14]
McLemore, DorisDoris McLemore 1927 living Wichita Caddoan – Northern [7]
Calderón, CristinaCristina Calderón May 24, 1928 living Yaghan language isolate
Benson, EdwinEdwin Benson 1931 living Mandan Siouan – Western Siouan
Mungulda, CharlieCharlie Mungulda unknown living Amurdag Iwaidjan [8]
Steckley, JohnJohn Steckley unknown living Wyandot IroquoianNorthern – Lake Iroquoian – Five Nations – Huronian [notes 15]
Parker, VerdenaVerdena Parker unknown living Hupa Na-Dené – Athabaskan-Eyak – AthabaskanPacific Coast Athabaskan [9][10][notes 16]
Sen, Gyani MaiyiGyani Maiyi Sen 1937c. 1937 living Kusunda language isolate [11] [notes 17]
Wilcox, MarieMarie Wilcox 1933 living Wukchumni Yok-UtianYokutsan – General Yokuts – Nim – Tule-Kaweah [12]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Believed to have been the last monoglot Cornish speaker, as opposed to other speakers such as Dolly Pentreath who could also speak English. See Last speaker of the Cornish language.
  2. ^ Possibly the last fluent native speaker of the Cornish language, was monoglot until her twenties. See Last speaker of the Cornish language.
  3. ^ Last full-blooded speaker, though partial knowledge of this language continued among mixed Cayuga-Tutelo descendants for some time.
  4. ^ Considered to be the last full-blood speaker of a Tasmanian language;[3] however, Fanny Cochrane Smith, who spoke one of the Tasmanian languages, outlived her.
  5. ^ A Cornish farmer who was one of the last people with some traditional knowledge of the Cornish language.[4] See Last speaker of the Cornish language.
  6. ^ Considered to be the last fluent speaker of a Tasmanian language.
  7. ^ Recorded a song in Beothuk in 1910.
  8. ^ The last attested native Cornish language speaker, part of a group of children who conversed in Cornish, interviewed in 1914 at the age of 80.[2] See Last speaker of the Cornish language.
  9. ^ Last member of the Yahi, the last surviving group of the Yana people who spoke Yana
  10. ^ Last attested speaker of a Chumashan language
  11. ^ Last surviving native speaker; the language has since been revived.
  12. ^ The last full-blooded Selknam Indian, but some have suggested certain people remained fluent in the languages until the 1980s.
  13. ^ Last surviving native speaker; some children still learn it as a second language.
  14. ^ Last surviving native speaker; it is being taught as a second language on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.
  15. ^ Not a native speaker of the language
  16. ^ Last fluent speaker; several non-fluent speakers remain
  17. ^ Last fluent native speaker; several non-fluent speakers remain

References[edit]

  1. ^ Endangered languages Ethnologue: Languages of the World. (Archived at WebCite)
  2. ^ a b "Legend of Dolly Pentreath outlived her native tongue". This is Cornwall. 2011-08-04. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  3. ^ Field linguistics: a beginner's guide. 
  4. ^ De Bruxelles, Simon (21 May 2008). "After centuries, Cornish agree how to speak their language". The Times.
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "What happened to Erromango's languages?" by Terry Crowley, The Journal of the Polynesian Society, 106:33-64, No. 1 (1997)
  7. ^ "The Last Living Speaker of Wichita : NPR" (Audio interview). 
  8. ^ "Scientists Race Around World to Save Dying Languages". Fox News. Associated Press. 20 September 2007. Retrieved 9 June 2009. 
  9. ^ Evans, Nicholas (2010). Dying words: endangered languages and what they have to tell us. Chichester, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-23305-3. 
  10. ^ Newberry, Daniel. "Rescuing Languages From Extinction: The Experience of the Hoopa Valley, Karuk, and Yurok Tribes". Jefferson Public Radio. Retrieved 29 November 2011. 
  11. ^ "Obscure language isolate will die with this woman". The Hot Word - Hot & Trending Words Daily Blog at Dictionary.com. 2012-06-03. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  12. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/19/opinion/who-speaks-wukchumni.html