Skip to comments.Ancient dialect extinct after last speaker dies
Posted on 02/05/2010 7:30:14 PM PST by rdl6989
PORT BLAIR, India (Reuters) One of the world's oldest dialects, which traces its origins to tens of thousands of years ago, has become extinct after the last person to speak it died on a remote Indian island.
Boa Sr, the 85-year-old last speaker of "Bo," was the oldest member of the Great Andamanese tribe, R.C. Kar, deputy director of Tribal Health in Andaman, told Reuters on Friday.
She died last week in Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which were hit by a devastating tsunami in 2004.
"With the death of Boa Sr and the extinction of the Bo language, a unique part of human society is now just a memory," said Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, an organization that supports tribes worldwide.
"Boa's loss is a bleak reminder that we must not allow this to happen to the other tribes of the Andaman Islands," he said in a statement.
Kar said Bo was one of the ten dialects used by the Great Andamanese tribe.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
If she was the last speaker of the language, to whom did she speak?
Where’s the Rosetta Project when you need it?
There was one and now none but that government bureaucracy to deal with them will live on for decades.
Her tribe is related by DNA to Tibetans and Ainu.
Biological and Cultural history from a non middle eastern source. Too bad they didn’t write their history down.
I should point out that since the guy was the only one who understood his own dialect, it actually fell into disuse when the other person who spoke it died.
I should also point out that language evolves. Like all human behavior, it changes over time. It adapts to fit the needs of the people who use it. Spelling, grammar, and syntax change as cultures shift their priorities from one ideal to another. The form of letters changes. If you fancy yourself a constitutional scholar, you know what ‘regulated’ meant in 1787 and what it means now. A ‘regulator’ is now a thing that controls voltage or pressure. It meant something entirely different in the West in 1875.
It’s funny that academics hoot and holler about evolution every time someone threatens to open a Bible, but when they are confronted with the actual process, they soil themselves in resistance.
Heck, why didn’t she write it down on something for gosh sakes?
I wonder how he wants to go about it. Should those poor tribesmen forced to study the language against their will? In modern, connected world there is no reason to speak the "native" language, especially if there isn't a ton of literary works in it (I suspect there aren't.) A child today would be much better off studying and speaking one of major languages, instead of learning the language that only a handful of people understand.
Local languages arose because of isolation of tribes. Once the Internet comes into every hut, fluency in other languages becomes essential, and old languages are set aside. If linguists are so upset about such a natural thing, they should learn and speak those dead languages themselves, instead of foisting this task onto others.
Snow is blowing so hard you can hardly see.
Now, about these lost languages ~ you can learn Ladino on the internet. You can also learn Mingo on the internet.
"So what" you might ask!
First, so you can understand what more than half of Jewish names mean, and Secondly, so you can understand Homer Simpson.
One of the Romance languages became extinct in 1898, when the last person who knew the Dalmatian language died. Some of the Romance dialects spoken in Switzerland are spoken by small numbers and could die out in a few more generations because German and Italian are much more useful for modern-day life.
Uh,....tape recorders? CD’s, DVD’s, video recorders,......etc.
It’s also very informative to learn Greek and Hebrew, especially in tracing meanings of terms used over millennia.
It’s amazing the number of scholars who consider ancient languages to be less sophisticated than their own thinking, when those prior generations had far fewer distractions to master the art of expression.
Then again one can succumb to learning....Esperanto.
In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, an ancient race of people... the Druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing...
I don’t think Bo had any words for any of the modern recording devices. Oh well.
I don't speak Latin or Greek; however I can use a dictionary. If I need to learn what some names mean I can find a book written by a competent scientist which discusses that. If nobody bothered to write a book then I guess it's not that important.
Secondly, so you can understand Homer Simpson.
Now, what is the value in that? :-)
I think the value of each language is proportional to the total number of speakers of that language multiplied by the importance of written works in that language and divided by availability of good translations.
Some very old Chinese books were never translated, and they are insightful - so you need to learn Chinese. If you work for a Chinese company (in China) it probably is a good idea to pick up some Chinese.
However languages of small tribes often have no writing system, and there are no books written in them. Nobody is intentionally trying to kill those languages, they die all on their own, just because there is less interest in learning them, and few people to talk to in them. Or to put it differently: how much more valuable your message will be if you say it in Elbonian instead of French, for example? It is not a secret that some language sometimes offers a better word than some other, but is the society interested in a minute gain if it has to heavily pay for it in complexity?
It may be that in a few hundred years all languages on the planet will consolidate into one, just because it makes plenty of sense. Only die-hard scholars will want to read Leo Tolstoy's works in his native language; everyone else will gladly settle for a translation. In fact, that might be a good idea because it takes a long time to master a language, and your own interpretation of the text would be for many years poorer than a translation made by a professional.
If I were to guess, future chances of complex languages like Chinese, Japanese and Korean are quite limited. That's because it takes so long to learn the writing (and it requires an ability to recognize complex images.) Japan has Katakana, though; China has pinyin - but ultimately English is one of simplest languages on Earth, and at the same time most of scientific literature today is in English, and pretty much everything worth translating is translated into it... so eventually larger local languages will join the languages of tribes in disuse.
Heghlu’meH QaQ jajvam!
Many languages have come and gone. Language changes with the culture. It is essential that in order to know a particular culture you need to know the language. You can learn much about a culture from its vocabulary and syntax. It gives you a insight to how they envision their world. Language is essential for thought. If I were interested in studying a culture that spoke BO, then knowing the language would be important, otherwise, it serves no purpose.
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