Archive for the ‘China’ 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)

Cantonese endangered?

14 June 2012

Could Cantonese (yue-can) be endangered?

Surely not yet, but Michelle da Silva makes a case for its rapid decline in “Is Cantonese an endangered language?

Long the most common Chinese language heard in the Americas and Hong Kong, liberalization of emigration in China led to large numbers of Mandarin speakers moving to Hong Kong and abroad. Cantonese continues to be spoken as the lingua franca of Guǎngdōng Province, but with the focus on Mandarin in the education system, Cantonese may have reached a tipping point.

The Evenks

2 May 2011

The Evenks, known also as the Ewenti or Evenki, are a people who live in China, Mongolia and Russia (with a nominal number in the US). Formerly, they were known as the Tungus or Tunguz, giving rise to the language family known as Tungusic.

Although the ethnic population in Russia is higher (35,500 in 2002) than China (30,500 in 2000) and Mongolia (1000 in 1995), more Evenki (evn) speakers live in China (19,000) than Russia (7600) or Mongolia. The UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger provides a visual understanding of how spread out the Evenki communities are.

As an ethnic minority in China, the Evenks are entitled to cultural and economic assistance, and further, are exempt from the One-Child Policy.

One home to the Evenks is the Ewenki Autonomous Banner, an ethnic administrative district located in Inner Mongolia, a Chinese province neighboring Mongolia. Even in the Ewenki Autonomous Banner, the Evenks compose less than seven percent of the population.

Evenki may be written using the Cyrillic alphabet (as with Russian), the Latin alphabet, the Mongolian alphabet or the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). The Mongolian alphabet is in use in “Evengki Mongġol Kitad kelen-u̇ qaricaġuluġsan u̇ges-u̇n tegu̇bu̇ri,” which is evidently an Evenki-Mongolian-Chinese dictionary as well as a collection of folk songs.

According to “Ethnic group revives near-extinct language” on the China Daily USA site, the government of the Evenki Autonomous Banner commissioned an Evenki language textbook and has put it to use in the schools. The textbook uses IPA to convey the Evenki language.

Later this year, primary and secondary schools will introduce Evenki language classes.

YouTube has a video of a traditional Evenki at “Ewenki / Evenks Song 鄂温克族民歌 – 毛傲吉坎河” and a dance at “Evenk round dance : delehintcho.”

Two side notes. According to Omniglot, the English word “shaman” comes from Evenki. Also, Evenks were among those who witnessed the 1908 Tunguksa event, in which a meteoroid or comet exploded in the air over Russia, releasing energy equivalent to about 1000 times that of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb.

News in Brief: Brown bag at UNM, Xibe revival, WA conference

12 April 2011

Brown bag lunch at the University of New Mexico on April 13, Wednesday, focused on the Americas. ‘Indigenous Planning in the Americas’ Focus of Presentation

Xibe (sjo) revival in China. Video in English after Xibe lead-in. Xibe is related to Manchu (mnc) and employs the same writing script. Revival of a dying language

The Western Australia State Language Conference is now in progress. Irra Wangga