Obscure language isolate will die with this woman

Seventy-five-year-old Gyani Maiyi Sen is the only native fluent speaker of Kusunda in the world, and linguists are rushing to record the unique language. Around the globe languages are dying rapidly as more and more people are learning global languages instead of maintaining their native tongues. Kusunda, a unique language of Nepal, is another of these dying languages.

Linguists, like biologists, have a scale to measure how endangered a language is. A language is considered “safe” if it will be spoken by children in 100 years. A language is classified as “endangered” when it is unlikely that children will speak it in 100 years. However, Kusunda is more vulnerable than that. It is technically a “moribund” language, which means that no children are currently learning it. When the last native speakers die, a language officially becomes extinct.

Kusunda is unique not only because it is moribund, but it is also a language isolate. Like Basque, Kusunda is not related to any other spoken language. Linguists are rushing to Nepal to record Sen speaking and describing Kusunda. The language does not have an alphabet, though, which makes this task difficult. Some linguists have speculated that Kusunda may be related to Indo-Pacific languages spoken in the Pacific Islands, but there is no definitive correlation.

Recently linguists determined that an endangered language spoken in Siberia is related to languages spoken by Native American groups. Learn its full history here.

Do you think languages should be recorded and saved?


  1. David -  June 30, 2014 - 9:16 pm

    If she’s the only remaining speaker, how do they know she’s speaking it fluently?

    • Mark -  March 29, 2015 - 1:38 pm

      If they know her age, apparently they have some way of communicating with her. She apparently speaks it fluently enough that she’s comfortable with it, and she presumably had some friends or relatives with whom she used to speak the language. But if her grammar is poor, we’ll never know.

    • Hemanta Bhandary -  September 23, 2016 - 3:07 pm

      The local people as well as a researcher or a linguist can easily find out whether she knows about the Kusunda language enough or not. Since it is being said that it is already a moribund language, the only thing which can be possibly done at first is to document as many words or vocabularies as possible (in the form of a book or dictionary, CD, Video recordings, etc.), then write a book on how to teach and learn the Kusunda language, and finally teach interested people how to speak Kusunda language (in accordance with the book). Of course she could be extremely useful to do all the above.

  2. Semiotics | Visual Communication -  February 16, 2014 - 7:04 pm

    [...] I find intriguing is how people study a dying language.  How do people study a culture?  In >this< reading, it’s interesting to see that a language is considered “safe” only [...]

  3. | GM Voices -  September 3, 2013 - 8:29 am

    [...] Languages all around the globe are dying rapidly as more and more people are embracing globalization and learning global languages instead of maintaining their native tongues.  Keeping languages alive becomes like “survival of the fittest;” the more commonly-spoken languages dominate the less spoken, eventually causing language extinction. [...]

  4. Amit Deb Biswas -  August 8, 2012 - 4:04 am


  5. OwlTarsier -  July 29, 2012 - 1:24 pm

    Wait – the article only said that the language didn’t have an ALPHABET. Does this mean that is has characters meant for full words, or no characters at all?

  6. OwlTarsier -  July 29, 2012 - 1:12 pm

    @jenny: I think she might be bilingual, or else she wouldn’t be able to teach us anything. That’s my guess, any others?

  7. OwlTarsier -  July 29, 2012 - 12:57 pm

    Wow…that’s sad. Of course I would record the language! Knowledge is precious, and this dying language is priceless. Maybe if more people knew this language, we could nurse it back to health and let it flourish again. Where would it be spoken? I don’t know. But maybe it will be useful one day, when we come across some ancient manuscript in that language. Unfortunately, this is impossible, as the language has no alphabet. Oh, well. Nous verrons ce que nous verrons.

  8. me -  July 24, 2012 - 3:27 pm

    Can that lady speak other languages or just that one?
    I think that languages should be recorded.

  9. HK -  July 21, 2012 - 12:20 pm

    If she’s the only person left able to speak this language how will they know what she is telling them!?!?!?

  10. fabgirl -  July 2, 2012 - 12:57 pm

    In response to whoever was wondering how Kusunda could be related to a language in the West Indies because it was so far away, language relations have nothing to do with location. See, there are these things called language families. English, Spanish, French, Greek, Italian, and many other languages
    are part of the Indo-European family. There are many other language families
    too, like the Sino-Tibetan, which includes Mandarin, Thai, and Egyptian.

  11. DARSHANA -  July 2, 2012 - 1:27 am

    wow….very fantastic ya,i cnt believed it .

  12. Elias -  June 15, 2012 - 12:35 pm

    Does she have a nose piercing?

  13. anne -  June 14, 2012 - 12:05 am

    this is in response to “Lily”. it is possible to have a language even though it doesnt have a set of allphabet. like in our place, we use our native language everyday but uses the “abc” alphabet in writing.

  14. extinct -  June 12, 2012 - 1:20 pm

    Wow good timing language experts! You waited until one old granny remains to record the language :-)

    So if she’s the only one speaking it, how do they communicate with her? Does she speak other languages?

  15. sherryyu -  June 9, 2012 - 2:40 pm

    yes but it will be a hard task recording it since it dosent have an alphabet

  16. DEVESH -  June 7, 2012 - 10:52 pm

    Yes of course, the language should definately be recorded and saved. It would be better still if you make it available on net through YOUTUBE etc so that many people can copy them and keep the records.

  17. Morchena -  June 7, 2012 - 2:22 pm

    Of course, por supuesto, vraiment. Communication is vital, what if the internet were to shut down?

  18. Mackenzie -  June 7, 2012 - 2:02 pm


    I’m pretty sure it’s a nose ring and kind of weird- looking…..LOL

    I just went to the Bronx zoo!!!! LOL that was random…but i actually did im serious

  19. Linda -  June 7, 2012 - 11:54 am

    Such a spoken-only language should be recorded/preserved digitally if only for its future value in relational content and structure to comparative analysis in folklore/oral traditions.

  20. max -  June 7, 2012 - 10:08 am

    The reason to record the language has nothing to do with “holding on to the past” or impeding progress. A language is recorded for the same reason archaeologists preserve fossils, to identify them, categorize them, and find their place in the evolutionary line. Someday, if they find a link between Kusunda and another language, they’ll have another link in the path of how humans migrated across the planet.

  21. Sharon -  June 7, 2012 - 8:22 am

    I never heard of a language that one cannot write out. This is a language that needs to be preserved. And learned, somehow , by someone.

  22. flabergasted -  June 7, 2012 - 8:21 am

    Maybe the linguist should start recording these comments. Some of them look like new languages! Learn how to spell and write proper sentences folks. It is one thing for a language to die out for lack of interest, but we are murdering English everyday.

  23. Prakash Kirtankar -  June 7, 2012 - 7:05 am

    Yes, very much. Come to think of it, there are several dialects spoken by tribals and nomadic tribes in Adilabad district of AP and adjoining areas of Maharashtra in India – more particularly by various sub-sects of Lambadas such as Gonds etc – that may not last long, given the rapid urbanization and other such factors. Linguists and other experts do well to survey these areas and endevour to preserve such fast-vanishing dialects. I may extend any help in this matter, if approached

  24. Ashish -  June 7, 2012 - 5:39 am

    it is so sad to hear that….

  25. Umbatu Maiyi Sen -  June 7, 2012 - 3:20 am


  26. dame -  June 7, 2012 - 12:48 am

    To remind us that our world full of diversity, including languages, yes it should be preserved. Another burden for the linguists I guess.

  27. Havana Black -  June 6, 2012 - 1:13 pm

    I speak 4 languages 3 fluent and one comsi-comsa but I don’t know about this one, what will be the use of recording it? In case aliens come and they communicate in this language then we run to the archives and grab the literals and translate. There are thousands more languages around the world that are dying out over time; it’s just the way of the world. This happens so we can move forward and onward, so I say, let nature take it’s Darwinian course.

  28. Mackenzie -  June 6, 2012 - 12:26 pm

    I noticed the woman is wearing a bindi, she’s probably a Hindu.

    But that’s soo cool, even if it is hard to believe.

    I’m pretty sure she can talk other languages other than Kusunda. Otherwise how could she live?

  29. mary torres -  June 6, 2012 - 12:01 pm

    @John i love you

  30. mary torres -  June 6, 2012 - 12:00 pm

    @Dee lol :) thats realy funny lol lol :) ;)

  31. coldbear -  June 6, 2012 - 11:43 am

    Maybe I missed it, but I’m surprised I didn’t read anything from the one-language/one-world order people.

    I believe the language should be recorded, if for no other reason than historical reasons. Otherwise, if none of her family/tribe/etc is interested, then let it die.

    Reasons to record it:
    * as an aid to research languages, etc.
    * historical signicance
    * use in radio security (a la the WWII Navajo Code Talkers). Yes, I know modern technology supposedly makes this obsolete, but technology can be broken.
    * perhaps someone can come up with other reasons that I am missing.

    Don’t talk to me about culture, as obviously any culture associated with this language has already died. Not if the children wanted no part of it.

    Yes, record it, but don’t mourn its passing.

  32. Mandla Nkosi -  June 6, 2012 - 11:10 am

    @katie I agree with your english language opinion, that it is slowly demolishing due to abbreviated texting in our youth. However that may not be a fact because in African countries we are still taught to speak fluent English in order to accomodate foreigners, social networking is indeed taking over today’s youth but that does’nt stop us from being fluent speakers.Regarding the Kusunda language I still find it futile for the language to be taught to the children whereas their parents cannot fluently speak the language i’ll repeat myself and say the language can only be recorded for historical reasons.

  33. Dee -  June 6, 2012 - 10:20 am

    Who does she talk to??

  34. Katie -  June 6, 2012 - 8:25 am

    Wow some people can be so dumb! I agree with Jim Dueweke. The proper english language is dyeing out due to the younger generation and there text messageing and with people now only communicating via email. They type short abbreviations and skip a hell of a lot of proper language. It is a joke! People who speak the english language fluently should be ashamed of themselves.
    I would also like to add a quick thought to the people who believe that the Kusunda language should just die out. You are obviously the new younger generation that I was talking about before. There lazy and selfish and could not give a crap about anything else but what concerns themselves especially history. If it was not for history, you would not be where you are today you idiot; be thankful for what you do have and use it well and preserve what previous generations have said and done to make our world what it is today. I contribute a lot of this type of lazy and selfish attitudes to their stupid parents who took the new age parenting view of never saying no to their children and letting the children rule their lives. We are raising a generation who is going to destroy our future and delete our history.

    • Renee -  August 23, 2014 - 7:19 am

      Wow. You just murdered the grammatical structure and rules over and over. English has punctuation and homonyms; please don’t criticize others when you clearly can’t grasp the nuances yourself.

  35. Mandla Nkosi -  June 6, 2012 - 8:21 am

    @john quoting from the article it says “It is technically a “moribund” language, which means that no children are currently learning it. When the last native speakers die, a language officially becomes extinct.” so I dont think there are any other speakers or linguists for that matter that know the language and she’s definetly the only fluent speaker, but I still think its futile to motivate anyone to speak that language, because no one will ever be a fluent speaker.

    It may be recorded for historical reasons only.

  36. thedecider12 -  June 6, 2012 - 8:02 am

    I see no reason to record the language. The world changes, and as part of the world’s changes some languages are lost. It’s not necessarily a bad thing that this language could be lost. Honestly, who among you all would be impacted by this language’s extinction?

  37. Saroj Barua -  June 6, 2012 - 7:43 am

    Yes, please record it. If possible make a documentary. Because, (my opinion) all languages are kind of art. I think part of global cultures involved in this language. Example, even though, I am not from Nepal but I know that there was a very sophisticated language in Nepal and it’s called Pali (during Buddha’s period). Which is core language of Buddha’s dialogs, 8,4000 (eighty four thousand) script or sutra. I think currently no body speaking or using this language their daily life, except Buddhist religious purposes.

  38. Lance1225 -  June 6, 2012 - 7:18 am

    @I hope they can get every words,terms of that langauge.

  39. Yugan Dali -  June 6, 2012 - 7:18 am

    I am able to speak some Dayan (Tayal) and Tsou, ancient Taiwan aborigine languages that are, sadly, endangered. Tsou in particular strikes me as being quite different from other languages I speak (English, Chinese) or have studied (Russian, Viet Namese). For example, the locations of things you talk about are carefully indicated, and they have a wide variety of numbers for counting different things. So far I have come across about twenty sets of numbers!
    The most important thing is for kids to learn the languages. Kids pick up language quickly, and give language life. The good news is that there is a kindergarten in Miaoli in which the only language of instruction is Dayan.

  40. Lali Girl -  June 6, 2012 - 5:39 am

    All around me on a daily basis, I see the dying of my native language. It dies because of parents who think speaking a global language like English will help their children succeed in school and understand their world better. Only the parents and the elders speak it. The children understand but don’t speak it. Only a generation later, this language is lost. It’s a very sad thing to see. And the saddest part of this whole saga is the parents are caught up in this whole mentality of thinking the native tongue is inferior….that speaking English elevates and distinguishes childlren. So I see a rootless, shifting generation lost without an identity or anchor to their lives…becoming a monolithic, cardboard culture.

  41. Eva -  June 6, 2012 - 5:34 am

    Yes, they should abolutely record it. Languages represent the rich cultures and history of the world, and their diversity underlines human intelligence.

    I’m just wondering why the language (or dialect) was not passed on to her children and grand-children, if she has any? Or was there something that prevented her from doing so?

  42. Mungo -  June 6, 2012 - 5:28 am

    As an amateur anthropologist, I will cite a quote from the legendary Claude Levi-Strauss, “Let us suppose for a moment that astronomers should warn us that an unknown planet was nearing the Earth and would remain for 20 to 30 years at close range, afterwards to disappear forever…neither effort nor money would be spared to build telescopes and satellites [to study the planet]…if the future of anthropology could be seen in this light, no study would appear more urgent or more important. For native cultures are disintergrating faster than radioactive bodies and…we may never again be able to recognize and study this image of ourselves”.

    An English poet once said, “every man’s death diminishes me for I am a part of mankind”. We should change that a little and say, “the death of every culture diminishes us all because we lose another part of our cultural heritage”. When a language is lost, it is like a library was destroyed for that language is a living record of how that culture evolved, survived and lived. If we lose that language, we lose a chance to study that culture and also a chance to see how our own ancestors must have lived thousands of years ago. This is why it is very important to preserve all these languages and cultures because it is from them that we all evolved and they are part of our common history.

  43. Nick Rios -  June 6, 2012 - 5:18 am

    A lot of questions. If she is the only person that can speak the lingo, who is going to record what thy do not understand. To record somthing is because you undersand what there talking about. Then she is not the only person with the lingo.

  44. Scribbler -  June 6, 2012 - 4:12 am

    @ brisgirl.

    Thank you! I am perplexed and a little disgusted by those who don’t value the cultures and traditions of others. Because something is not applicable to your life does not mean it is unworthy of recording. Anyone who speaks more than one language will know that every language has words which are unable to be translated. We may try to pinpoint the meaning of such a word in another tongue, but it might never be fully realized. Because it is an isolate, this language might prove useful in understanding how languages develop. This information could be used to improve the way English is taught to speakers of unrelated languages. Has anyone considered the possibility that there might be a practical application to preserve this woman’s language? Maybe we don’t see it at the moment, but I don’t think there is any harm in storing this information away. The cost of sending a few linguists with tape recorders to speak with this woman cannot be so great as to justify letting her language disappear forever.

  45. Ed H. -  June 6, 2012 - 2:08 am

    Re: All the “Why bother saving Kusunda when only a handful of people (including this old woman) comprehend it?” comments.

    Because as long as this old woman lives, she can teach Kusunda to others. And as John just noted, she’s the only NATIVE speaker of Kusunda. The article doesn’t mention any non-native speakers of that language, so she might not necessarily be the last person with fluency in Kusunda. The article’s title may be misleading in that regard.

    From an anthropological point of view, Kusunda may hold keys, secrets and morsels of insight regarding the evolution of human culture and language in that region. Thus, it must be preserved and studied for further anthropological research.

    And from a military point of view, obscure languages with no written forms and very few speakers are natural ciphers, ideal for slipping clandestine communications past enemy ears. We only need to look at how the United States befuddled the Axis powers by transmitting sensitive messages in certain Native American languages to see how useful obscure languages can be in times of war. Maybe by the time World War III finally rolls around, we’ll be using Kusunda to slip reports from the front lines past any eavesdropping enemy operatives…provided we keep Kusunda from going extinct, of course.

  46. BUDDY -  June 6, 2012 - 2:04 am


  47. Sarah -  June 6, 2012 - 1:43 am

    I hope that this ancient language will be recorded and many children will learn it.

  48. J Collins Meek, PhD -  June 6, 2012 - 1:30 am

    I think/feel that language is a vital part of culture and should be preserved. – Doc Meek

  49. TheFigure -  June 6, 2012 - 12:42 am

    The post by Matt Ramsy is exactly what I was talking about.

    If the world is filled with ethnocentric cultures that all think they are better than everybody else, we (as a species) have little chance of progression or survival.

    I’m not trying to suggest some sort of cultural amnesia, and I’m certainly not trying to suggest genocide. I’m just suggesting that instead of focusing on our differences with other cultures, we instead focus on what we have in common with them. With all the communications and quick travel we have, the planet is getting smaller. A single global culture is virtually inevitable (as this article shows us) if we don’t kill each other first. Don’t run from that idea like a star-bellied Sneech; embrace it.

  50. Prasanna -  June 5, 2012 - 11:16 pm

    I believe, for communication to happen, there need no language… transmission of intentions alone is sufficient… however, most of us are bound by limitations, although there’s an innate ability to transcend within everyone… language is art, and those that are significant will automatically be preserved… language came into existence through nature, and when we say that it becomes extinct, it’s just going back home, of which we are an active part… in this case, where there’s only one person across the globe who speaks Kusunda… do you really think that it’s going to matter if she dies without passing the what we interpret as wisdom? I dont think so.. maybe trying to preserve the language is a complexity brought upon ourselves…

  51. Henry -  June 5, 2012 - 10:17 pm

    BTW, my parents are from the auld sod in Ireland. My great uncle was considered an expert in both modern and ancient Gaelic. He is gone now, I only had one great, long chat with him when I was studying Chemistry 33 years ago. I would loved to have been able to study under him, my ancient tongue. All I know is a few cuss words or words of endearment, or “Slainte’ ” (i.e. “Cheers” a crucial word in Irish circles LOL). But I mention this because Ireland made a concerted, formal effort to resurrect their language which had been squelched, suppressed and almost destroyed by the English (not language, the English Crown and its minions). Much of the language’s former richness is gone forever, but it is alive now more than it has been for hundreds of years. And my great uncle, he was more interested in my Chemistry studies than trying to teach me Gaelic. His body was old but his mind was young and his eyes a-twinkle…God love him.

  52. Henry -  June 5, 2012 - 10:11 pm

    While we should record this for historical purpose, c’mon, how many of the people saying “yes we should preserve it” are willing to try to learn it? If her kids and grandkids didn’t want to, what makes you think you will?

    From a zen perspective I cannot see being ‘sad’ about this for very long….as with biological evolution, the process’s biggest feature, mathematically, by far, is the fact that 99.9% of species go extinct, this is the yang to adaptation’s ying. This is life. A nod to the past, a bittersweet moan, … but that is all. Language richness is fascinating. This includes the processes of borrowing, adaptation of grammar and vocabulary, and all the exciting things that make new languages vibrant and immediate. Something old languages did not offer….not due to any “fault” of their own, it’s just the way things are….

  53. Robert -  June 5, 2012 - 8:59 pm

    @westerner: “Western societies flourish because of its progressive attitudes rather than clinging to the past.”

    Western societies owe much more to the past than I think you’re allowing. Some of our most cherished ideas come from Ancient Greece (democracy, philosophy etc), Ancient Rome (engineering, architecture etc), Ancient India (advanced mathematics), Ancient Egypt (monotheism), and the Ancient Middle East (the whole Judeo-Christian framework). Much stuff come to us from the Middle Ages and other periods before ours.

    For all the ‘progress’ of the West we’ve a long way to go. One only has to look at problems like drug abuse, mass killings, lack of healthcare for the poor – that, particularly in the US – to see that traditional cultures have much to teach us.

  54. Brionno -  June 5, 2012 - 8:56 pm

    What’s in her nose?

  55. akimbo -  June 5, 2012 - 8:36 pm

    At Jim Dueweke,

    Not sure why you would assume that all the English speakers are American. That aside, I’m not so sure why you are being so critical of others’ attempts at expressing their opinion. If they are, in fact, American, you should be applauding their effort.

    We all no about the deplorable rates of literacy in the U.S.. And many of us non-Americans hold stereotypes of you being jingoistic bigots. That so many have written supporting the preservation of a language, which offers no immediate or special benefit to the U.S., is commendable.

    Finally, is it really that ironic that the majority, if not all, of the comments were in English. It is an English dictionary blog after all.

    Relax, and bask in their splendor.

  56. Name not mentioned -  June 5, 2012 - 8:31 pm

    This is so sad… we should record it, and if any1 can, they should learn it……….. that lady should feel sad becuz shes the only fluent speaker, but proud at the same time becuz it does seem like a complex language to learn. Though recorders are rushing, they better hurry even more, Gyani Maiyi Sen my die soon.

    -Name not mentioned

  57. Alex -  June 5, 2012 - 8:03 pm

    @John- You think linguists are trying to talk to her only through her tongue but most likely she has learned a global language as well as her native tongue for practical matters. You can go around only speaking a language almost know one understands, let alone having no one understand completely.

  58. anonymous -  June 5, 2012 - 8:02 pm

    Isn’t that so sad I mean how are they suppose to learn it if there is no alphabet.

  59. anonymous -  June 5, 2012 - 8:00 pm

    Yes Save It !

  60. Alex -  June 5, 2012 - 7:58 pm

    Languages should be saved, there are infinite methods of communication but none came as easily to us as the spoken word. If a language is becoming extinct the only reason would be that the global languages are more practical and should be endorsed. Don’t fight the mainstream languages, but don’t forget your heritage either.

  61. Robert -  June 5, 2012 - 7:44 pm

    Yes, all languages should be recorded for posterity. Who knows what information, what history, what magic is locked away in a language, or how it might relate to another language.

  62. Dhan Shrestha -  June 5, 2012 - 7:07 pm

    She should be recorded and let the world know about her

  63. Steven -  June 5, 2012 - 6:25 pm

    All language emerge from the human mind. If we lose something that we created, existing in only one place in the universe, it would be a tragedy. In the same way that your personality is imbued upon your andwriting, the culture of a society is imbued upon a language. When we lose a part of ourselves, we should take it seriously. On the other hand language ids just a form f communication.

  64. Skoglund -  June 5, 2012 - 6:10 pm

    For most people languages are dead anyway….in the sense that no one knows what the hell they are talking about anyway!

  65. Susan -  June 5, 2012 - 5:53 pm

    @John It is likely that she speaks more then one language. Americans seem to be dumbed down in that area of thought enough that we assume others are so ignorant of the rest of the world. Guess it’s good for propaganda.

  66. CMack -  June 5, 2012 - 5:14 pm

    Being a previous Russian and Chinese Language Major in the University, and having worked as a translator and language teacher for many years, It is important we preserve all endangered languages. It’s a moral responsibility of the indidivual countries’ government, to have it recorded for their National Archives; whether the language is taught again, or not! It’s the fact that it existed and was part of a unique culture, which served some purpose at one time, or another to play its part in a coutries history.

  67. RuneScape -  June 5, 2012 - 4:49 pm

    Our past determines the future. The more we know about the past the more we know about the future.

  68. speedy -  June 5, 2012 - 4:08 pm

    Let’s see… People have found out how to decipher hieroglyphs…. so obviously it means we can figure out a spoken ( or once spoken) language. I mean, come on. With today’s technology, we can do just about anything. Whoever wants a single language is an idiot in my books. We need diversity in this world. That’s basically how the world runs. Without other cultures, our homeland would be so boring! Whoever said “no” to this blog are just to lazy to write “yes”. Really, come on. It’s just one more letter.

  69. Buizel -  June 5, 2012 - 3:58 pm

    Well, it should be preserved. What if one day Spanish dies out? Of course people who used natively speak it would want it to be preserved. Cultures should be recorded, not forgotten. Forgetting something that had some effect on the world just goes to show you human ignorance.

  70. gorio -  June 5, 2012 - 3:43 pm

    i wonder how the Linguists will factor-in the effect of her nose-ring in her prununciation

  71. l -  June 5, 2012 - 3:30 pm


  72. annabel -  June 5, 2012 - 3:13 pm

    maybe since no one speaks the language, it deserves to be extinct

  73. danielle -  June 5, 2012 - 2:20 pm

    Well the language wouldn’t have to die if she had a daughter or if people tried to learn her language before she died.=(,,,,,,,,, bo hoo hoo

  74. Lucio -  June 5, 2012 - 2:06 pm

    Well what’s the point in preserving a random language that almost no one speaks anymore?

  75. Joann -  June 5, 2012 - 2:03 pm

    This is how the ancient language of the Egyptians went. This is very sorry.

  76. Kandie -  June 5, 2012 - 12:26 pm

    I believe that all languages are important and should be preserved. Language is part of daily life for the world. We all need it, and the more languages we learn, the stronger our brains become. Humanity depends on language to communicate and to be intelligent. I genuinely hope the linguists are able to rescue this dying language and create an alphabet for it so that more people can learn and understand Kusunda.

  77. John -  June 5, 2012 - 11:49 am

    @Jenny – In answer to your question: “Seventy-five-year-old Gyani Maiyi Sen is the only native fluent speaker of Kusunda in the world, and linguists are rushing to record the unique language”

    How will they converse with her if she is the only one speaking it? She may well not be the *only* one speaking it. She’s the only native AND fluent speaker of it. There could be other speakers (linguists, for example) who speak the language, but not fluently or natively.

  78. Jim Dueweke -  June 5, 2012 - 11:22 am

    Here is quite a long blog about preserving a nearly dead language; all but one of the writers have written in English (and maybe that one was intended to be in English).

    What is shocking to me is that fully half of the messages in this blog whose subject is language and writing contain at least one sentence that is incomprehensible, i.e., you can’t understand what the writer is trying to say. And some of the messages are more than 50% incomprehensible, i.e., they contain MANY sentences that are incomprehensible. Indeed, the purpose of writing is to communicate with the reader. Why are they wasting their time writing? Maybe I am all wet here; maybe they are being understood by others that also can’t write.

    Certainly, non-native-English-speaking writers should be excused from criticism here; in fact they should be lauded for their attempts to communicate in English.

    Communication involves correct spelling, punctuation, complete sentences, sentence structure, and use of the proper word (word definitions and subtle differences between words). And ALL of the afore mentioned communication features improve communication between writer and reader, the singular purpose of writing. I don’t expect perfection, but it is obvious to me that most writers do not even read over their messages before hitting the send button. There is no excuse for not editing your message before sending it.

    Maybe my message is too long, but I am disgusted with and embarrassed by my fellow Americans.

  79. Mandla Nkosi -  June 5, 2012 - 10:45 am

    this language does’nt have alphabets, seriously theres no need to hold on to such stuff.Let it be extinct.

  80. Jeff Walton -  June 5, 2012 - 9:53 am

    There are great minds in this world and it is wrong to think that this is impossible for anyone to learn. You have to be an optimist or this language could die out. Optimism is the reason we grow as a World and have Historical feats of great significance.

  81. Jeff Walton -  June 5, 2012 - 9:43 am

    This is the most interesting article I’ve read in some-time. I love learning other languages and this is one that I would love to get my hands on!

  82. Robert -  June 5, 2012 - 9:27 am

    Well that’s a shame. Although it has no practical use, I hope they get as much as they can recorded for historical reasons.

  83. Brian -  June 5, 2012 - 9:25 am

    Wikipedia also says there is only one fluent speaker but then goes on to say, “However, in 2004 three Kusundas, Gyani Maya Sen, Prem Bahadur Shahi and Kamala Singh, were brought to Kathmandu for help with citizenship papers. There, members of Tribhuvan University discovered that one of them was a fluent speaker of the language. Several of her relatives were also discovered to be fluent. There are now known to be at least seven or eight fluent speakers of the language, the youngest in her thirties.”

  84. Jose -  June 5, 2012 - 9:18 am

    Just a little info for those of you wondering about a language without an alphabet. Linguists have different means to record a language in writing. Given our present human state, we have been able to speak for about 200,000 years but have only written in the past 5,000, so writing is relatively new on a grander scale.

    To record a language without a written alphabet linguists may employ what’s called the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), to give you an idea of what it is you can visit this Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Phonetic_Alphabet).

    Many many languages will be going extinct this century. Many in the US.

  85. Ann E. -  June 5, 2012 - 9:08 am

    Absolutely believe it should be preserved. Who can say will or will not be important in the future. e.g. perhaps she knows secrets of an ancient medical cure. Is she less important than the silly comments posted on Facebook or what “star” wears what “designer”? Look at the BIG Picture. The world is a speck in the universe…and the question remains…what is important, really.

  86. JJRousseau -  June 5, 2012 - 9:01 am

    Aarfy! — Made it out Wit practice. — What, after all, was the Catch? Twenty-two.

  87. gabriel moore -  June 5, 2012 - 8:46 am

    Wow i feel bad for this poor old women, shes the last of her language.

  88. Myke -  June 5, 2012 - 8:38 am

    Whats the point? if there is only one person speaking the language how are you going to translate it to another language? There is no garuntee that person will cooperate, and if there is some genius who could understand the language? that would take a long time to get back

  89. alex -  June 5, 2012 - 8:34 am

    who cares……not ganna hurt anyone

  90. Matt Ramsy -  June 5, 2012 - 8:33 am

    I’m guessing the people who said No, it doesn’t have to be saved, that we need to move forward and all that crap, I’m betting they’re white people with no roots, no connection to their past. I pity you.

    I’m a proud Native American, a fluent speaker of my language. I hope linguists record everything they can about this woman. Recording the language and cultural aspects of Native people around the globe is what makes humanity unique. People with no roots are missing apart of themselves. Thank God I’m Native!

  91. Tim -  June 5, 2012 - 8:15 am

    No! We make the world to complicated. Language is something that the world should unite with. So who cares. There should be one language and that’s it!

  92. Anounymous -  June 5, 2012 - 7:19 am

    A culture live and thrives through it’s language. It is a way to hold what you believe in and trust in close. I think that a language can define some things about who you are and how your life is. Some people are wiling to die for their language, it means that much to them. Every language should be recorded as soon as possible. Then the language and the culture can survive. Even if only one person speaks it, I believe the language should be recorded to show what has been spoken and done in this wold and the diversity that can still live on.

  93. micaela(: -  June 5, 2012 - 7:08 am

    Woooow!!! o_o

  94. mary torres -  June 5, 2012 - 7:00 am

    porr old lady i fel bad for her

  95. Jorge -  June 5, 2012 - 6:26 am

    Well, practical reasons are not everyting for science. Theoretical and speculative ones are just as compelling.

  96. Carley -  June 5, 2012 - 6:11 am

    Jeez i never knew there were ENDANGERED languges….. i still thinl it should be saved. It’l be cool to learn a languge with no alphabet… :I

  97. Nidnat Mystedin -  June 5, 2012 - 6:02 am

    maybe i am the straggler…but here is what the last person has got to say…
    every language is very essential for the rich diversity of cultures in the world, and the extinction of language not only mean deterioration of our rich heritage but the way to the point where we can meet the era with only one language in the whole world. can you imagine? yes but it is no more a fairy tale but the tale-tale sign of the present trend of fast-extinction of languages.

    every language is special because with them they embrace the unique inherent cultures and costume of many thousands of years. now many of us are left unnoticed when very rich and rare language such as Kusunda goes never to be seen again. it is very big lose, for all of us. language is something the mankind had created with surprising precision to conquer the unexplored aspect of our lives.

    with language mankind raise highest amongst our neighbourhoods – the whole animal kingdom.

  98. WHY -  June 5, 2012 - 5:55 am

    OMG! I didn’t knew this before cuz I am not interested in these!=P

  99. William -  June 5, 2012 - 5:54 am

    Please note: “West Indies” refers to the islands of the Caribbean Sea. Indo-Pacific languages are spoken in the Pacific/Oceania regions (e.g., Papua New Guinea and Tasmania). Those islands might be referred to as the “East Indies.” Of course, both “West Indies” and “East Indies” are Eurocentric designations, so it might be best to avoid using either one! :)

  100. Kuma -  June 5, 2012 - 5:08 am

    I hope when the writer uses the word “saved” they mean that Kusunda should be saved by actually passing it on to the next generation of children learning their first language, and develop a society which actually uses and respects the use of Kusunda.

    If “saved” only means that the language is documented by linguists then it’s only as good as an archaeologist collecting a rare fossil or something. So please don’t treat Ms Gyani Maiyi Sen as just a last remaining, precious specimen of her language. There’s of course the culture, the history and the useful linguistic data for analyzing human linguistic capacity, but please remember the language is also about the woman herself, a human.

    At the end of the day if you really care about a language then have children learn it and use it, rather than recording it and writing it all down just to have no one to learn it to the point of any functional fluency.

  101. Nick Rios -  June 5, 2012 - 3:30 am


  102. shuk -  June 5, 2012 - 3:09 am

    i think this will be a history for language and linguists to be able to see how a language is extinct in front of them. i learnt about language extinct at university and now i could relate it well. anyway, for sure it should be recorded and save for future reference and studies. one day, english will also extinct..

  103. Westerner -  June 5, 2012 - 1:10 am

    @jay: “Ok! Record it by all means but then what? Who is going to pick it up and learn it when there’s no one else around speaking it. Fact is there’s no practical reason to store it other than for historical reasons. But good luck to them…i suspect it’s going to be alot of work!”

    Exactly. There is no practical reason other than the historical. Western societies flourish because of its progressive attitudes rather than clinging to the past.

  104. RM -  June 5, 2012 - 1:07 am

    there are thousands of languages on world that are near to extinction. If we don’t save languages , then at the end of this century there will be only half of the language that existed tdy

  105. TheFigure -  June 5, 2012 - 12:46 am

    I suppose storing it for the sake of storing it isn’t technically a problem, but the idea that this language is somehow going to be the language of the future, or that this language holds the key to the next Rosetta Stone is a bit far-fetched.

    As for the culture, as we evolve as a planet I see better things happening for us as a species if we strive for a single global culture rather than a series of estranged and prideful subcultures. The process should be allowed to progress as naturally as possible (as opposed to artificially and systematically eliminating other cultures).

    Yes, it would be sad the be the last of your culture on the planet. However, she isn’t the last human on the planet. I suspect she’ll be taken good care of. :)

  106. George -  June 4, 2012 - 9:55 pm

    Keep one on the past and you will be blind in one eye, keep both eyes on the future and you will be blind in both.

  107. Chilligal -  June 4, 2012 - 9:53 pm

    @Nathanael – great explanation.
    @Agkcrbs – Impressive. Thanks
    @ The Rapping Son – Wow, very impressive. You should join the translating team. You would undoubtably hear familiar sounds and could search your knowledge of 10 languages to determine where the woman’s language originated.

    @Glen When all we’re speaking in the world is a form of Chinese (let’s hope we are only forced to learn one dialect!) you may find English dying out. Be very thankful that it will be preserved.

  108. Kunchok Drolma -  June 4, 2012 - 9:36 pm

    It is truly important to keep your own langugage and to transfer that skills to many other younger generations. Recording the dying language is essentail, but then why dont the linguists organize a campine or program that can have the old woman to teach others the Kusunda? We should appricate that in some countires you are free to preserve your own tradition, language and culture. But in some other less fortunate areas, if protecting your own langugage is a hard to one to do becuase of the politics…

  109. Nothingandthatsthat -  June 4, 2012 - 9:33 pm

    Language is a part of us. And if we die there’s noone to answer the questions that only challage us after death. Language can influzence those challaging questions. If we save a language, then we save unanswered question from being tossed out. Because if they are, we may never know the history behind it.

  110. Sakura-chan -  June 4, 2012 - 8:50 pm

    this is weird how can a language die?

  111. QQ:1079573264 -  June 4, 2012 - 8:02 pm

    无语啊 草

  112. JayCkat -  June 4, 2012 - 7:59 pm

    Yes, because globalization will eventually mean that there will be only one language spoken in the world.

    A lot of things have no practical value. Why save the first American flag? Why save a rare plant or a rare animal. Why keep the Great Wall of China? Or preserve the first jet plane, or the first skyscraper. Why even bother with museums?

    If we kept things only because it has practical value, we would be very poor indeed.

  113. Emma Taylor McJoan -  June 4, 2012 - 6:58 pm

    :( poor woman :’(
    So sad. ;(
    Guys be happy at what you are because more than half of the world don’t get a good life like us. So whenever you feel mad just because you are not rich or something like that, think of the people who have experienced worse.
    That means everyone who uses dictionary.com should feel lucky because they have enough money to have a computer with Internet access.
    If you think you are poor, well, think again. What’s that device right in your hands or in front of you? It’s an electronic device that has the Internet.
    Be happy and be proud that you get a good life. And don’t be a dreamer.
    –Emma Taylor
    EmEm TayTay Mcy Joany (em-em tay-tay mickey joanie)

  114. Casandra -  June 4, 2012 - 6:11 pm

    Languages should definitely be recorded and saved. Its history in way.

  115. bill -  June 4, 2012 - 6:05 pm

    i dot like her

  116. Adam Shame -  June 4, 2012 - 5:22 pm

    @G. D. Pandey
    Wow!! Is that a true story??!!! Fascinating!!

  117. Rosaline :) -  June 4, 2012 - 5:14 pm

    I really think they should teach this to children! Languages are very important after all…..and this is very unique as it has no alphabet. I hope she doesn’t die. :( . It makes me sad thinking all about it…..

  118. Charles -  June 4, 2012 - 4:54 pm

    Yes. and very quickly

  119. Greg Taylor -  June 4, 2012 - 4:37 pm

    Clearly, English is dying too.

  120. Jassi -  June 4, 2012 - 4:12 pm

    I’m Nepali and I didn’t know about this language either. :(

  121. Abee -  June 4, 2012 - 3:53 pm

    OMG this doesn’t even make sense, how do you record it??

  122. Abee -  June 4, 2012 - 3:52 pm

    This is so stupid haha! Like, okay she’s the last one.. so what? The world changes, lets move on. It’d be so much better if everyone spoke the same thing. Like, duuuuhhhh!!!

  123. MoribundHusband -  June 4, 2012 - 3:44 pm

    Nobody understands my language. My wife, my kids, none of them pay attention to me. Sometimes I feel my dog understands me, but then he goes on and bites my leg, even my hand. Send those people to me, at least I will have someone to talk to!

  124. mesha -  June 4, 2012 - 3:30 pm

    this is so sad I never knew that there was only one person that spoke this language. To think that once she dies this language will die forever

  125. qwedfrgtg -  June 4, 2012 - 3:23 pm


  126. Maddie -  June 4, 2012 - 2:41 pm

    I’m personally shocked that not ONE other person in that tribe felt that it was important to learn their native language. How can they care so little about something that preserves their culture? How that woman must feel, knowing no one else bothered to learn their language. We need to save languages! Each is so unique and different, it’s part of human culture! Diversity is key!

  127. C -  June 4, 2012 - 2:10 pm

    Provides an interesting perspective on Wittgenstein’s view that there is no such thing as “private language” — i.e., that, by definition, a language must involve communication between at least two individuals. I suppose he might argue that Kusunda is already dead, since it is no longer used to communicate (and since Gyani Maiyi Sen is now only communicating *about* Kusunda to others, presumably in another language, rather than actually using Kusunda itself).

  128. Eyewitness -  June 4, 2012 - 1:44 pm

    Also, please get this woman some modern medical care so she lives as long as possible, especially while she ‘bequeathes’ Kusunda to the wider world. She is, in effect, the repository of a whole social construct, somewhat like the very last unhatched egg of critically threatened bird species.

  129. Eyewitness -  June 4, 2012 - 1:40 pm

    Absolutely save this language. But an important technical question was not addressed by this editorial: Is she bi-lingual? How can she convey to researchers the nature and function of Kusunda if there is not some translation protocol? I feel the article should have addressed this point.

    On the generally accepted premise that language development is a quasi-orderly process, then this language has a place in a matrix of languages since the inception of language development, rather like the periodic table of elements in which there are blank entries for elements that must exist (somewhere), but are not present in a natural state on earth. Just knowing what is as yet undiscovered gives greater meaning to the meta-structure. It is upon this reasoning I STRONGLY believe moribund languages must be documented and perhaps even re-introduced, probably to volunteer populations in academe, so the language is at least practiced. Case in point, no native population speaks esperanto, but its existence tells us about how languages develop and spread (or not) as an extension protocol for human experience and perception.

    To amplify my point with a biological metaphore, any language is somewhat like recombinant DNA–a protocol structure whose ‘orderliness’ is a direct response to environment and task specialization. It is profoundly absurd to consider that certain DNA structures which appear to be ‘junk’ coding should simply be discarded from study. Could anyone possibly not see the value of sustaining a ‘moribund’ language when it is regarded in the larger scope of human context? I believe the value of saving Kusunda and similar lanugage (structures) is self evident when the broader implications of language itself (any language) are taken into account.

  130. pirjenny mercedes -  June 4, 2012 - 1:40 pm


  131. Clydes -  June 4, 2012 - 1:02 pm

    As Angolan, with no doubt i should, not only accept but support to keep them alive by learning, speaking and teach to others, i know that we’ve in our country at least 7 most know-ed natives languages.
    We should not only speak the globalization languages, but begin learn one´s of our natives languages now.

  132. jenny -  June 4, 2012 - 12:09 pm

    How someone can possibly record the language of the only person who is able to speak it if no one can communicate with her?? I don’t see the point in there! Why would she speak out on her own if no one is able to ask her something in this language?? As mentioned in the story =>
    “Seventy-five-year-old Gyani Maiyi Sen is the only native fluent speaker of Kusunda in the world, and linguists are rushing to record the unique language.”

    Someone?? ^ ^

  133. Catherine Owen -  June 4, 2012 - 11:55 am

    Amazing how many people commenting on dictionary.com can’t spell or use proper syntax!

  134. mochi -  June 4, 2012 - 11:52 am

    @”Somebody”‘s comment:

    You are wrong. This isn’t “dwelling” in the past. This is examining and learning from our ancestors. That’s progress

  135. Tim -  June 4, 2012 - 11:51 am

    I wonder how many languages in the past were lost to progress or adaptation. Yes record it for whatever reason (recording this language would be IMHO a better us of time than say someone collecting and/or preserving dolls or bottle caps, etc.) But this language may / will probably never cross the lips of another human being once this woman passes perhaps similar to how society will probably never pick up a rotary phone to communicate with friends or family. Our world is changing and as difficult as it is for most it’s what’s happened since the beginning of time. So, good luck documenting the language and hopefully someday it will be useful to someone but the reality is the language dies with this woman; it’s memory will be preserved by linguists. Good-bye Kusunda.

  136. John Michael Cohan -  June 4, 2012 - 11:42 am

    对,Oui, Si, Yes.

  137. Jonathon -  June 4, 2012 - 11:36 am

    That should definitely read “East Indies,” not “West Indies.” The Indo-Pacific language family (which is a proposed but controversial grouping) mostly includes languages spoken in New Guinea and Melanesia.

  138. That's right -  June 4, 2012 - 11:28 am

    I wonder what the average age of this group is? Lot of teeny bopper verbiage going on…

  139. man of enlightenment -  June 4, 2012 - 11:22 am

    Well of course I think the language should be recorded. This pathetic old woman should be dragged (using the convenient nose ring) to the nearest university and subjected to a comprehensive recorded series of investigations so that we can fully comprehend what these individuals ran around grunting about. Although, the more I think about it, all we might learn is a bunch of new curse words, since she is probably not going to appreciate this treatment…

  140. man of enlightenment -  June 4, 2012 - 11:13 am

    Well of course I think the language should be recorded. This pathetic old be-och should be dragged (using the convenient nose ring) to the nearest university and subjected to a comprehensive recorded series of investigations so that we can fully comprehend what these individuals ran around grunting about. Although, the more I think about it, all we might learn is a bunch of new curse words, since she is probably not going to appreciate this treatment…

  141. Zahid Akter -  June 4, 2012 - 11:04 am

    Well, there’re instances of resurrecting a language for which documentation played a vital role. A record of Kusunda, therefore, will leave some hope for us, whereas, letting it disappear unrecorded will mean the ultimate failure. So recording the language by all means should be prime task at the moment.

  142. Talat Rehan -  June 4, 2012 - 10:49 am


  143. john van nguyen -  June 4, 2012 - 10:48 am

    and sorry but reading comments i jsut feel as iif i ahve to post another comment, and here whne other languages die out new ones come in, as in animals most become extict then another day new ones are discovered, so either way where not all gona speak the smae language ubt kepp our diversity for as long as the world will survive, but whne that happens then there shall be no language left to be spoken onyl until new life begins here on earth again

  144. al -  June 4, 2012 - 10:47 am

    she couldnt get a tissue before hand……… smh

  145. john van nguyen -  June 4, 2012 - 10:44 am

    and also a language changes or is simmalar to another because it migrated to another area, but maybe wnet extinct, and others may have picke dit up and tried to add some new stuff to the language to also try and us e it agian

  146. john van nguyen -  June 4, 2012 - 10:43 am

    a language can be made even without an alphabet how do u think most of the creatures in the world speak there toung, without writhing anything down, but they just learn sounds od there language and utilize that information.

  147. HMM -  June 4, 2012 - 10:39 am


  148. jay -  June 4, 2012 - 10:33 am

    Ok! Record it by all means but then what? Who is going to pick it up and learn it when there’s no one else around speaking it. Fact is there’s no practical reason to store it other than for historical reasons. But good luck to them…i suspect it’s going to be alot of work!

  149. DeniseAlexis -  June 4, 2012 - 10:06 am

    The Kusunda language should be saved just the mere fact that it’s part of one of the cultures you can find in the world. It shouldn’t fade yet until it has made history of other people or nations having the chance to learn and speak this language and be able to get to know more about it! Even I would try to sacrifice a time in my life to be familiar with these kinds of languages or traditions if only I could…

  150. brisgirl -  June 4, 2012 - 9:17 am

    Remember how excited people were when they were able to use the Rosetta Stone to interpret the Egyptian hieroglyphics, and therefore learn so much about their culture and history?

    While Kusunda does not have an alphabet, this does not mean that we do not need to find some way to keep a record of this language. There are many languages where people did not have a written version of their language, (and possibly still some who don’t) – this does not make their language, history, and culture any less important. I have previously read of linguists who put the spoken language of some tribes into a written form, even if the tribe themselves did not have a written version of their language. This would not be a first.

    It seems there is a certain arrogance amongst English speaking people in particular who feel that all people should simply speak English and forget about other languages, cultures etc. What a shame.

    Thankfully we don’t feel that way about endangered animals. Or do we?

    I hope not. Let’s treat people and their culture with the respect they deserve.

  151. jenny -  June 4, 2012 - 8:48 am

    How someone can possibly record the language of the only person who is able to speak it if no one can communicate with her?? I don’t see the point in there! Why would she speak out on her own if no one is able to ask her something in this language?? As mentioned in the story =>
    “Seventy-five-year-old Gyani Maiyi Sen is the only native fluent speaker of Kusunda in the world, and linguists are rushing to record the unique language.”

    Someone?? ^ ^

  152. Vinay -  June 4, 2012 - 8:32 am

    I am so grateful for the people who are working hard to preserve it. Thanks for this info Dictionary.com

  153. Stacey -  June 4, 2012 - 8:23 am

    Yes, this (and all) languages should be saved. I correlate a language dying with an animal becoming extinct, and it makes my heart break to think that either of these things could happen. As an American (who currently lives in America but has lived in and visited other countries), I am appalled by the *disposable* attitude that seems to be running rampant here. As has been stated before regarding this article, a language is not a single thing… it contains the culture, history and indeed the actual story of those who speak it.

  154. MonkeyFist -  June 4, 2012 - 8:22 am

    Every language that we still have access to should be recorded so that in the future if/when we encounter something related to that culture we will be able to decipher and understand it. Yes, it is a good thing not to dwell on the past, but when we ignore the past we repeat it’s mistakes. I really don’t want to repeat any of the mistakes we’ve made in the past regardless of which culture or society that mistake initiated in. So I repeat myself, yes we should record every language that we still have access to.

  155. V -  June 4, 2012 - 8:12 am


    Who is that guy?…

  156. William -  June 4, 2012 - 7:54 am

    Yes, because if the language becomes extinct, then this language will be gone for ever and nobody can speak it again

  157. Alec -  June 4, 2012 - 7:27 am


  158. Ann lee -  June 4, 2012 - 7:13 am

    I am doubting the validity of this article…

  159. Romeotay -  June 4, 2012 - 6:50 am

    This is a sad story especially for those who once spook this Language – soon they will be forgotten.

    For those who Languages have not yet assigned a single alphabet, this should serve as a serous warning.

  160. shata -  June 4, 2012 - 6:46 am

    oh no! so do you guys think that Haition Creole might be endangered some day

  161. obscenecupcake@yahoo.com -  June 4, 2012 - 6:12 am

    I think some languages should be preserved. As for this one, I can see no use for it. Learning it would be for purely aesthetic reasons. Unless there are songs in the language or books (no alphabet so unlikely) then I cannot think how loosing this language will impact the world at all.

  162. Hotu Matua -  June 4, 2012 - 6:01 am

    Should endanged languages be recorded and saved?
    Well, it all depends on what you are meaning by “should”.
    People interested in spending time, effort and money in saving them should save them.
    People not interested in that, should not be forced at gun-point, by the State thorugh taxes, to save them.

  163. hamid -  June 4, 2012 - 6:00 am

    To me doesn’t make any sense because who is going to speak it after she dies.

  164. Larry -  June 4, 2012 - 5:32 am

    LOL sorry didn’t read full article

  165. Larry -  June 4, 2012 - 5:29 am

    to Cheesy: who said the language does not have an alphabet?

  166. Cy -  June 4, 2012 - 5:26 am

    Well, the world is changing every minute. We cannot control nor hold it, but we should taught the kids the importance of their mother-tongue.

  167. Ezio -  June 4, 2012 - 5:18 am

    With the lost of a language also come the lost of an identity followed. The woman or her descendant (if any) would just be another ethnic Nepalese. The same with native American languages. They forgot their languages and became just another Latino. I THINK WE SHOULD PRESERVED THE LANGUAGE for better understanding a people culture.

  168. B. B. Butler, III -  June 4, 2012 - 5:16 am

    This headline is incorrect. Language will not die with this woman, instead “A Language will Die With This Woman.”

  169. James W. Chochola -  June 4, 2012 - 4:48 am

    I love languages; I nearly wept when I read this.

    I wonder, however, about a language like Latin which – while there are no native speakers and is “extinct” by the definition above – simply evolved into the five Romance languages. We don’t say that “humans” are extinct merely because the Homo sapiens neanderthalensis no longer exists. I feel we should be weary about using “dead” or “extinct” when describing Latin since there are five languages which have evolved from it and which look and act no more differently from their ancestor than we do ours.

  170. The Rapping Son -  June 4, 2012 - 4:12 am

    Yes I definitely think that we should preserve or at least record all the languages. I myself am fluent in about 10 different languages. (English, Chinese, Italian, Latin, Japanese, French, Greek, Spanish, German and Russian) I am a quick learner…

  171. Me -  June 4, 2012 - 3:46 am

    I absolutely think that languages should be saved. On the space probe Voyager 1, there are pictures of the Earth, its organisms, features, environment, sounds, voices of people (In many different popular languages- mainly English), babies, animals, etc. on a Gold plated record, in case an alien life-form finds it.

    Who knows, if an Alien life form finds this information and recognises it as their endangered language, but their common language is one of these almost extinct languages on Earth, we could lose a link. If we save these endangered languages and manage to communicate succesfully with aliens, who knows what we can achieve. I know I am really stretching it but no one has any evidence to prove me wrong.

  172. ReaderWho -  June 4, 2012 - 3:35 am

    Yes, it should be at least recorded if it will become “extinct” or never be spoken by anyone anymore. It will become part of history.

  173. Luthien -  June 4, 2012 - 2:57 am

    @Somebody: Survival of the fittest does not exist.

  174. GalacticPresidentSuperstarMcAwesomeville -  June 4, 2012 - 2:49 am


  175. Tushar kumar -  June 4, 2012 - 2:25 am

    Its a great information to share but very sad information to realize that slowly and gradually history is dyeing.

  176. Bubbles -  June 4, 2012 - 2:03 am

    Yes, I think it should be recorded and save however maybe some linguists may just be the one so interested to it, I am not so interested with old native language of some place else, lol. But for history’s, cultures, or per records sake, you may or should record it to add up a list of safe and endangered one’s so you guys may have the long list pile up :), just kidding, yeah you may do but as for me, I think even if it is recorded, no one exist these modern times, so interested to learn a so old super hard, useless native lingo.Sorry for being mean :)

  177. Peter -  June 4, 2012 - 1:46 am

    Least you linguists could do to a lady like that is save her language :( The old looks absolutely lonely. Have some sympathy , I say!

  178. Xavier Alex Xander Diaz -  June 4, 2012 - 1:45 am

    Yes, languages are part of human history. Also, there are many artifacts and places to have discovered by archeologist, just imagine if the language of the ancient Egyptians was never recorded by other humans. We would have suffered a tremendous loss to our history. Today there are many languages that were lost due to the Spanish Conquistadores and their Religious beliefs in America; we have to way of translating the history that was written on the stone… :-(… Damn Conquistadores, this might have made an awesome Hollywood movie.

  179. Ekta Upadhyay -  June 4, 2012 - 1:43 am

    On a lighter note, If she is the only speaker of Kusunda,,I wonder who she converses with ? :)

  180. Agkcrbs -  June 4, 2012 - 12:22 am

    To answer, not all languages are written; linguists record them in a phonetic alphabet, and they interpret it because she is at least bilingual.

    But who are “linguists”? They’re just totally normal people who went into the field because of a love of languages, and IF they have time, means, and interest to go try to scribble down some language in IPA, then we will have “saved” a language. What does “saved” mean, anyway? It means absolutely nothing to a world that ignores it.

    There are still maybe 6,000 languages, some of them truly alien to what we’re familiar with. They’re capsules of human history, knowledge, and possibilities, evaporating into the dust. We’ll see thousands of them lost in our lifetime.

    While it’s a predictable side-effect of globalisation, language death doesn’t happen at an absolute rate. If any of us truly recognises the museum we’re burning down in this cultural inferno, what should we do about it? Nothing? Pity it on Dictionary.com? Study Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, or Russian, the great linguistic killers? Or whine like air-headed, narcissistic brats about how everybody should learn English?

    No. Whatever else we want to learn to speak, it’s incumbent on all of us to study at least one smaller tongue. Fluency isn’t necessary; just the effort is needed, the basic familiarity and respect for the language, the enlarged linguistic market, the incentive against assimilation and language suicide. Huge numbers of people in the U.S. live within a few hours of a reservation or even just a small native population; it wouldn’t be any great chore to go get familiar with their endangered languages and ways of life. Many cities are brimming with first-generation immigrants or refugees from all over that are invisible to the thoughtless majority. People in other countries have it even easier.

    So, get up and do something. Study a shrinking language and help save it yourself today, so tomorrow’s linguists won’t have to trek to the Himalayas to ferret out its last few surviving custodians. Many of those trips, sadly, will never get made, and humanity’s vision will grow ever more narrow, its cliched expressions ever more tongue-tied.

    Or, even if it is just learning Spanish (which itself has devoured many smaller languages), you have to start somewhere. Don’t stay trapped in your single-language prison cell, when the door is wide open. It’s better to make a statement to a lazy and under-educated world that, much like brains, two languages are better than one, and many languages are much better than two.

  181. Someone -  June 3, 2012 - 11:09 pm

    If she’s the only one who speaks it, then who’s going to know what she’s saying?

  182. Nathanael -  June 3, 2012 - 10:32 pm

    @Unknown – “Don’t people ever keep records of there language”

    Short of a tape recorder, how do you keep records of a language that has no writing system? It’s passed on from mouth to ear to mouth generation to generation, but it’s never been written down.

    @Lily – “How do you write a language if it doesn’t have an alphabet?”

    You analyze the language phonetically and morphologically, isolate the individual phonemes of the language, then develop a system to record the language phonemically. For example, I hear the words “dog” and “God”, note that they each consist of three distinct phonetic sounds, note through further phonetic analysis that each of those sounds can be phonemically distinct (that is, dog and tog, or God and cod are distinct words, not just phonetic variants of the same word), then develop a writing system that is capable of recording all the phonemically distinctive sounds in the language. Then you’re ready to begin writing down everything the speaker says.

    Kusunda is especially important because it is a language isolate, unrelated to the languages around it. As long as Spanish survives, for example, the loss of Portuguese would be less linquistically importantly because the very similar Spanish still exists. But who knows what unique secrets Kusunda hides?

  183. Nathanael -  June 3, 2012 - 10:17 pm

    In North America, 75 (45%) of an estimated 165 indigenous languages are moribund — spoken only by a small group of elderly people; they will be extinct within a generation. Only eight indigenous languages are spoken by more than 10,000 people. Like Kusunda, most of these languages still have no writing system, so once the final speaker dies, all knowledge of the language will be lost.

    Languages are disappearing rapidly in the modern world, taking their linguistic data with them. The SIL is doing yeoman’s work analyzing and preserving indigenous languages around the world, by they only work with living languages; they pass by the moribund. If no one does anything, at least a thousand languages will disappear over the next half century, and that is a loss to everyone.

  184. World Travel -  June 3, 2012 - 9:33 pm

    A language with which you cannot communicate to anyone is not moribund, it is already dead. Can any great knowledge come from a language without a writing system? Are we simply saving a culture for the sake of culture with ill-regard to the credentials of said culture? Is this not simply a form of self worship?

  185. Aullikxanthien -  June 3, 2012 - 9:21 pm

    That’s amazing! but at the same time is frightening. I’ve known that there are languages that are not being used by people now, but I didn’t realize that it was this critical if your language is facing extinction.
    That’s right, how are you going to write and learn this language if it doesn’t have it’s own alphabet?? how hard is that? I mean, it’s the main object on how you’re going to construct a word and then a sentence. I really hope they could figure it out.

  186. Glen -  June 3, 2012 - 8:06 pm

    I see no reason to record a dead language that virtually no one speaks. The whole point of language is to communicate. Therefore it is better to use a more widely known languages that most people use around the globe like English for example. Although English is a difficult language it has a decent structure and it is very specific oriented. Besides communication would be so much easier if everyone spoke a single language rather than have to use a translator to understand a foreigner.

  187. Manuel -  June 3, 2012 - 7:58 pm

    Language should definitely be recorded and preserved. If ancient languages such as Egyptian hieroglyphs or Aramaic had been recorded and defined with what each symbols mean, there would be a greater understanding of life and belief systems throughout the world. Part of what creates bigotry and ignorance is a lack of understanding for the various ways of understanding life. Language is a powerful tool in creating that understanding. If language was of little importance, do you think there would be such usefulness for dictionary.com or the OED (Oxford English Dictionary)? It is interesting to read the comments and notice that those who feel recording and preserving language is not necessary because it prevents progress are the same people with only 4-5 word comments. It just shows the lack of intelligence and recognition of what is deemed important; having no ability to argue against preserving language is the greatest argument for preserving language.

  188. L.Oostveen -  June 3, 2012 - 7:36 pm

    Kusunda, like any endangered language, show be recorded. Anthropologically speaking, it is an accepted fact that one’s culture lives and dies with their language. It would be a terrible injustice to the people of Nepal, and mankind in general, to not do everything possible to record everything this woman has to offer. Consider the advancements and understanding of the evolution of mankind that could be made as a result of the knowledge gained from this one single woman.

  189. animal-lover3 -  June 3, 2012 - 7:10 pm

    Languages should definitely be recorded. Recently, a language called Bo became a dead language after the last speaker died. I felt so sorry for the last speaker, who was an elderly woman because she was the only speaker for a long time until her death. She could only speak that one language.

  190. Duckgirl lis -  June 3, 2012 - 6:15 pm

    i think that it is a great thing that they are trying to save languages from extinction! we should try to record them before there is only one person left though…=/

  191. Mel -  June 3, 2012 - 6:03 pm

    I believe that all languages should be recorded and saved. It is the history of our planet and you never know, it may become popular once again in time. Although Global languages are important – especially seeing as the entire world can understand each other, I think that loosing diversity is just tragic. It’s what makes all countries unique and special in their own way. I currently speak 5 languages and just thinking about how if I only knew one language bores me to tears just as much as it sickens me. Languages are not just ‘language’, their part of cultures and societies. They are what makes this world so interesting. To lose that is just sad and tragic.

  192. Emma Taylor McJoan -  June 3, 2012 - 5:57 pm

    Aww… poor old lady. Just look at her face. Sad.

  193. Tray -  June 3, 2012 - 5:38 pm


  194. Kevin -  June 3, 2012 - 5:30 pm

    I think it should be recorded and saved because if it is, it could be proven to be useful later on, like when you need a secret code during wartime like WWII when they used secret codes. It could also pass on an language to some others to keep the tradition

  195. Somebody -  June 3, 2012 - 5:20 pm

    Survival of the fittest!

  196. hi -  June 3, 2012 - 4:49 pm

    that is sad

  197. Ohno -  June 3, 2012 - 4:40 pm

    There are a lot f languages already lost and they are right,: children should learn there native tongue first

  198. Ms. Terri S. -  June 3, 2012 - 4:29 pm

    Yes. Absolutely.

  199. Richard -  June 3, 2012 - 4:19 pm

    Wow neato!
    Yes, absolutely they should.

    Go Gyani Maiyi Sen!

  200. todd -  June 3, 2012 - 4:17 pm

    How could that be related to a language in the west indies? That’s so far away

  201. Unknown -  June 3, 2012 - 4:11 pm

    Seriously? Don’t people ever keep records of there language, like a small pamphlet or scroll about their language and how to use it?

  202. Mia -  June 3, 2012 - 4:08 pm

    Langauges definately should be recorded. The future generations can look back in history and study the old langauges, that were once a large part of many people’s lives. The way the world is headed, we may end up having one universal langauge. Every langauge should be recorded with the greatest care.
    Interesting article…….

  203. Amblyn -  June 3, 2012 - 3:45 pm

    I am going to make it my business to learn Kusunda.

  204. Dan -  June 3, 2012 - 3:43 pm

    Yes, I do think languages should be recorded and saved.
    How bout you?

  205. Eunice -  June 3, 2012 - 3:20 pm

    ^^that was a sadd comment, no more, srrry

  206. Eunice -  June 3, 2012 - 3:19 pm

    i think its sad when languages die because the history that surrounds it is amazing, we just need to know. they should be recorded. ughh i got an essay to go bac to. byeeeeeee

  207. Mazin Issa -  June 3, 2012 - 3:17 pm

    I very much like the comparison made between languages in linguistics and species in biology. And this comparison allows one to reason that yes, languages should be recorded and saved.

    Languages evolve with time, and they are the means to communicate information. Preserving information about languages might allow linguistics experts to come with techniques to improve languages and how humans communicate, or at least understand why some languages are more effective than others if such a comparison is objective.

    Each language has its own uniqueness, at a language like Kusunda, is an artifact that should be treated with respect and put in a suitable museum, to be seen by curious people and eager language experts.

  208. Evan Chen -  June 3, 2012 - 2:51 pm

    Sooooo wierd. Lady must be sad.

  209. Anonymous -  June 3, 2012 - 2:48 pm

    So what. Things change. This holding on to everything now is getting out of hand.

  210. Kathryn -  June 3, 2012 - 2:37 pm

    Language is an important part of this earth’s history. As more and more languages are dying, more and more of our world’t history is dying with them. Our opinio: Yes! Save as many languages as you can to better our worlds linguistic diversity!!!!!

  211. Hibz -  June 3, 2012 - 2:34 pm

    Awe. Thats sad.

  212. KUSUNDA | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  June 3, 2012 - 2:11 pm

    [...] ‘Kusunda’ though technically moribund say Gee, See? — A language spoken by one woman conservatively, — In isolate. — Who knows what she be saying? — Mayhap in tongues — she just be praying. — So it seems the lack of information makes her free — With the deepest of respect we will applaud her Fortuitously. — Not otherwise concerned but now we care –  That this woman has the time and patience left to share. — Smiling tongue in cheek about all other double speak — That her data be rediscovered by later generations, — Then uncovered — In some varietal situations, — Sen was actually looking for someone with whom to have some tea. –>>L.T.Rhyme [...]

  213. Daniel -  June 3, 2012 - 2:07 pm


  214. KirbyStarWarrior -  June 3, 2012 - 1:56 pm

    I’d say absolutely. People didn’t save Sumerian language, and now it is lost forever. We don’t want this to happen again. Languages should be saved, no question.

  215. Janet Gascoigne -  June 3, 2012 - 1:47 pm

    I definitely think that languages should be preserved and recorded or written down. Each language is a key to a culture. I teach English but am also interested in the structure of other languages and how they compare to English. Minority languages should be kept alive. Even if my students are learning a global language such as English they should never neglect their mother tongue. Wouldn’t it be nice too if more English speaking people learnt other languages instead of having the attitude “but everyone speaks English so why do I need to learn other languages”? I am trying to learn Arabic and Turkish and by doing so I have learned a lot about their cultures. Languages help us to understand each other not just by words but in mentality and how we think.

  216. Jeff -  June 3, 2012 - 1:33 pm

    Absolutely they should be recorded and saved.

    No information is so unimportant that it’s worth forgetting forever.

  217. J J Rousseau -  June 3, 2012 - 1:23 pm

    Butt of course, Ruff, ennui and Oui.

  218. Mariam -  June 3, 2012 - 1:12 pm

    I do believe languages should be recorded and saved. Every language is unique, and the older it is, the more interesting. Every language should be recorded.

  219. G.D.Pandey -  June 3, 2012 - 1:00 pm

    Raja Mama, a matured youth of western Nepal was the lone member of Kusunda tribes. He knew some words, language,culture &tradition of his tribes.At that time some enthusiastic youth of western Nepal tried to settle him permanently with a wife to save a dying tribe of Nepal.

  220. Somebody -  June 3, 2012 - 12:59 pm

    No, progress does not occur if we dwell in the past.

  221. hi -  June 3, 2012 - 12:40 pm


  222. Cheesy -  June 3, 2012 - 12:37 pm

    I think that more people should learn it, but if it doesn’t have an alphabet this could be difficult.

  223. Emshemie -  June 3, 2012 - 12:31 pm

    Not really….

  224. Madison -  June 3, 2012 - 12:28 pm

    Of course I think they should be recorded. It’s knowledge, and for languages to die I think is a real shame :(

  225. Jhonny Appleseed -  June 3, 2012 - 12:19 pm

    im joking im sorry

  226. Matt -  June 3, 2012 - 12:15 pm

    Hard to believe there`s a language that only one person speaks. Hopefully linguists are able to save it. Language is one of the most special aspects of humanity and every language is special.

  227. WhimsicalFlower -  June 3, 2012 - 12:12 pm

    Yes, I do think so that languages should be recorded. We are only given so many languages, and how can we preserve them other than recording them? A few thousand years later, they’ll be be different languages with different or even no people speaking them.

    This is now. And we need to keep it, protect it.

  228. Lily -  June 3, 2012 - 11:55 am

    Wow. I wonder what they mean by a ‘native speaker’? Maybe someone who grew up speaking it? How do you write a language if it doesn’t have an alphabet?


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