Ona language

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Region Argentina
Ethnicity Selknam
Native speakers
2  (2014)[1]
  • Chon proper
    • Island Chon
      • Ona
Language codes
ISO 639-3 ona
Glottolog onaa1245[2]

Ona (Aona), also known as Selk'nam (Shelknam), is a language that is spoken by the Selknam people in Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego in southernmost South America.

Part of the Chonan languages of Patagonia, Selk'nam is almost extinct, due both to the late 19th-century Selknam Genocide by European immigrants, high fatalities due to disease, and disruption of traditional society. One source states that the last fluent native speakers died in the 1980s,[3]:92 but another claims that two speakers have survived into 2014.[1] Either way, ethnic Selk'nam descendants still exist and continue to preserve the language.


The Ona language is an OVS language.[4]


  1. ^ a b Rojas, Luis (2014). A Heritage Reference Grammar of Selk'nam. Manuscript.
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Ona". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Adelaar, Willem (2010). "South America". In Christopher (ed.), Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger, 3rd Edition. UNESCO. pp. 86-94.
  4. ^ Najlis, Elena (1973). Lengua selknam. Buenos Aires: Universidad de Salvador. 

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