Archive for the ‘Yaghan (yag)’ Category

Languages with only one speaker

28 April 2013

According to “World’s 18 most endangered spoken languages,” there were 18 languages listed in the UNESCO Atlas of Endangered Languages with only one speaker in April 2010. (Thanks to LoL for the link to this article.)

According to the Atlas, there are now 19, but in many cases, the Ethnologue has different information. The languages listed in the Atlas with only one speaker are (by continent):


1. Bikya (byb) – the Ethnologue says there are no speakers

2. Bishuo (bwh) – the Ethnologue says there are no speakers


3. Pazeh (uun) – the Ethnologue says there are no speakers

North America

4. Patwin (pwi)

5. Tolowa (tol)

6. Wintu-Nomlaki, or Wintu (wnw) – the Ethnologue says there are no known native speakers

Oceanian, including Indonesia

7. Dampelas (dms)

8. Lae, or Aribwatsa (laz) – the Ethnologue says there are no speakers

9. Laua (luf) – the Ethnologue says there are no speakers

10. Volow (mlv) – the Ethnologue lists this and Dagmel as dialects, each with one speaker

11. Yarawi, or Suena (sue) – the Ethnologue says there are 3,600 speakers

South America (other than Brazil)

12. Chaná – it appears to not be listed in the Ethnologue (gqn appears to be different); (qs1 – Linguist List code)

13. Pémono, or Mapoyo-Yabarana (pev)

14. Taushiro (trr)

15. Tinigua (tit) – the Ethnologue says there are two speakers

16. Yaghan, or Yagán (yag)


17. Apiaká (api)

18. Diahói, or Parintintín (pah)

19. Kaixána, or Kawishana – it appears to not be listed in the Ethnologue; (qsw – Linguist List code)

Report of last Yaghan speaker passing along the language

11 June 2011

Yagán or Yaghan (yag) is a language isolate (unrelated to other languages) spoken in Tierra del Fuego, off the southern coast of South America.

“Spoken” may be an overstatement, however, as the only speaker of the language is Cristina Calderón, a woman in her eighties who is generally known as abuela or grandmother.

According to a blog post by Jim dated today on the Cadwaladr, King of Gwynedd blog, Calderón is teaching her granddaughter, Cristina Zárraga, the language.

According to Wikipedia, the two along with Ursula Calderon, the sister of the older-generation Cristina, published “Hai Kur Mamashu Shis,” a collection of Yaghan stories in 2005.

According to “Hai Kur Mamashu Shis” on the Connections blog, blogger Jacqueline Windh and the younger-generation Cristina published an English-language version, and a new edition is planned for later this year.

The Intercontinental Dictionary Series has an online Yagán dictionary (select simple or advanced browsing to find the languages). The University of Chile also has information on Yagán in Spanish.