Ona language

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Ona
Selk'nam
Native toArgentina Chile
RegionPatagonia, Tierra del Fuego.
EthnicitySelk'nam
Extinct1970s[1]
Chonan
  • Chon proper
    • Island Chon
      • Ona
Language codes
ISO 639-3ona
Glottologonaa1245[2]

Ona (Aona), also known as Selk'nam (Shelknam), is a language that is spoken by the Selk'nam 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 Selk'nam 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] A Radboud University linguist worked with speaker Herminia Vera-Ona who passed in 2014 to write a reference grammar of the language.[4]

History[edit]

The Selk'nam people, also known as the 'Ona, were an indigenous people who inhabited the northeastern part of the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego for thousands of years before Europeans arrived. They were nomads known as "foot-people," as they did their hunting on land, rather than being seafarers.

The last full-blooded Selk'nam, Ángela Loij, died in 1974. They were one of the last aboriginal groups in South America to be reached by Europeans. Their language, believed to be part of the Chonan family, is considered extinct as the last speakers died in the 1980s.

Phonology[edit]

Based on available data, Selk'nam seems to have had 3 vowels and 23 consonants.[5]

Selk'nam has three vowels: /a, ɪ, ʊ/.

Consonants
Bilabial Alveolar Palato-
alveolar
Retroflex Palatal Velar Uvular Glottal
dental plain
Stop voiceless p t k q ʔ
ejective
Affricate voiceless t͡ʃ
ejective t͡ʃʼ
Fricative s ʂ x h
Nasal m n
Approximant l j w
Flap ɾ

Grammar[edit]

The Ona language is an object–verb–subject language (OVS), this is a rare permutation of word order (only 1% of languages use it as their default word order). There are only two word classes in Selk'nam: nouns and verbs.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ona at Ethnologue (19th ed., 2016)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Selk'nam". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Adelaar, Willem (2010). "South America".
  4. ^ Rojas, Luis (2014). A Heritage Reference Grammar of Selk'nam. Manuscript.
  5. ^ Berscia, Luis Miguel Rojas (2014). A Heritage Reference Grammar of Selk’nam. Radboud University Nijmegen.
  6. ^ Najlis, Elena (1973). Lengua selknam. Buenos Aires: Universidad de Salvador.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]