Stretching tag:

Totally Unique Language in the Himalayas (Researchers Discover )

Posted by Think Extraordinary on 2:33 AM 0 comments


A Koro speaker talks to National Geographic Fellow Gregory Anderson in Arunachal Pradesh, India, as he makes a recording of the language.

In the foothills of the Himalayas, two field linguists have uncovered a find as rare as any endangered species—a language completely new to science.

The researchers encountered it for the first time along the western ridges of Arunachal Pradesh, India's northeastern-most state, where more than 120 languages are spoken. There, isolated by craggy slopes and rushing rivers, the hunters and subsistence farmers who speak this rare tongue live in a dozen or so villages of bamboo houses built on stilts.

The language—called Koro—was identified during a 2008 expedition conducted as part of National Geographic's Enduring Voices project. The researchers announced their discovery Tuesday in Washington, D.C. So many languages have vanished world-wide in recent decades that the naming of a new one commanded scientific attention.

"Their language is quite distinct on every level—the sound, the words, the sentence structure," said Gregory Anderson, director of the nonprofit Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, who directs the project's research. Details of the language will be documented in an upcoming issue of the journal Indian Linguistics.

Prized for its rarity as an unstudied linguistic artifact, the Koro language also offers researchers a catalogue of unique cultural experience, encoded in its mental grammar of words and sentence structure that helps shape thought itself.

Languages like Koro "construe reality in very different ways," Dr. Anderson said. "They uniquely code knowledge of the natural world in ways that cannot be translated into a major language."

In an era of globalization, languages have been disappearing by the hundreds, edged out by English, Chinese and Spanish or suppressed by government practices. Of the 6,909 known languages, about half are expected to disappear in this century; every two weeks, the last fluent speaker of a language dies. This newest, with only 800 or so speakers, may be no exception.

"Even though this is new to science, this language is on the way out," said linguist K. David Harrison at Swarthmore College outside Philadelphia. Many younger villagers, often educated at boarding schools where only Hindi or English are spoken, are abandoning their parents' language. "Young people are not speaking it in the villages," Dr. Harrison said. "If the process continues, Koro will almost certainly become extinct."
Link via Ace of Spades HQ

0 Responses so far:

Leave a Reply

New Visitor? Like what you read? Then please subscribe to Beautiful Photography Feed or sign up for Free Email Updates in your Inbox. Thanks for Visiting!