According to “Researchers race to record dying language,” there are three speakers of Dusner (dsn), all 60 or older. They live in a village on the Indonesian province of West Papua, which along with Papua makes up the left portion of the island New Guinea. (Confusingly, the right portion of the island is the country Papua New Guinea.)
According to the Ethnologue, there were six speakers as of 1978. Gapping the 1978 record and this new report, Christopher Moseley’s “Encyclopedia of the world’s endangered languages” notes in 2007 that Dusner was likely extinct.
Fortunately, it is not. With time running out, researchers Mary Dalrymple and Suriel Mofu from the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology & Phonetics at Oxford University are working to document the language. Under the name “Multimodal language documentation for Dusner, an endangered language of Papua,” the project began in October 2010 and is to last 14 months and is a collaboration with the State University of Papua and Cenderawasih University. The project will produce:
- digital video recordings, including culturally important stories and conversations;
- transcriptions, with free English and Indonesian translations, aligned with the video files;
- linguistically annotated texts in two forms;
- a glossary of basic words and affixes; and
- a grammar sketch.