Archive for the ‘Oceania’ 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)

Samoan Language Week 2011: Samoa Ola – Samoa Active

31 May 2011

In addition to being an official language of Samoa (along with English), Samoan (smo) is spoken in American Samoa, Fiji, New Zealand, Tonga and the US. According to the Ethnologue, there are 370,000 speakers all told, 200,000 of which are in Samoa. The UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger does not list Samoan, but the desire to keep the Samoan culture intact while the community has spread throughout the Pacific Ocean has led to an interesting movement: the Samoan Language Week.

Samoan Language Week runs from Wednesday, June 1 to Tuesday, June 7, starting on Samoan Independence Day. (According to “Happy 47 and 1/2 Birthday Samoa!” the actual date of independence was January 1, 1962, but was moved because January 1 is a holiday for the new year.)

According to “Celebrate Samoan Language Week with the NZETC” on the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre, Radio Niu FM began the Samoan Language Week movement at least four years ago. According to “Samoan Language Week USA Kicks Off Today” on Voxy, New Zealand’s Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for UNESCO set up a Facebook page in 2010. This is the main page for participants to communicate.

According to the Human Rights Commission page, “Samoan Language Week was first promoted by Radio Niu FM as part of a series of Pacific language weeks leading up to Māori Language Week.” The Facebook page for Māori Language Week says that Māori language celebrations have been held since 1975.

This year, the US is joining in the Samoan Language Week celebrations. There is a special Facebook page with a calendar of events, including a day for reading and a day for conversations.