Sunday June 24th 2018

Saving endangered ‘tongues’

Banner_Hualapai_Girls- Alyssa and Lena Montana


Ong uyan madongo?

You probably don’t know how to answer that question — unless you happen to be one of the roughly 430 people in the world who speak a language called Matukar Panau. Then you would know it means, “How are you?”

Matukar Panau is one of the world’s rarest languages. It is spoken in just two small coastal villages in Papua New Guinea. This tropical island nation lies in the southwest Pacific Ocean.

Until five years ago, David Harrison, a language expert at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania didn’t know much about Matukar Panau either. No one had ever recorded or even studied its words and rules. With so few speakers, the language risked vanishing without a blip. It was endangered.


For more about efforts to save endangered languages, read the full story at Science News for Students





Image: First Things First.

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