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Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Nuts and Bolts: resurrection.

What do Bargaria, Chochenya, Cornish, Hebrew, Kaurna, Manx, Palawa Kani and Wampanoag have in common?

Yes, that's right, they're all languages. But they have something else in common, too.

No,  it's not that, they're from all over the place. Cornish and Manx are British, Chochenya and Wampanoag are from the USA, Palawa Kani is from Tasmania, Hebrew from Israel, and Bargaria and Kaurna are Australian.

So what is it they have in common?

Well, they are all languages that have died out completely but have been revived. Palawi Kani is slightly different in that it has been put together from the scanty remnants of several Tasmanian languages to make one workable one.

Manx's revival began when there were still a few native speakers alive, though it did go through a phase where there were no native speakers at all.

Cornish has been revived from old books of grammar.

All these languages, like every language, are treasures of the world, repositories of wisdom and knowledge and definers of man's relationship with the universe. And they are now alive again.

Snapped threads of memory, spliced back together.

Even where there seems to be no life, sometimes there can be hope.

Word To Use Today: extinct. This word comes from the Latin exstinguere, to extinguish.


  1. I think it's wonderful they are being revived.
    Thank goodness for old books.
    Latin is a dead language, but it will always 'live' in books.

    I know there has been a concern for a few years now that the Maori language seems to be dying out. Sad.

    Gosh! Curiosity got the better of me, and I did a search for dead languages, and found this list of 'recently' extinct ones.
    (Scroll down for the list)

    Recently Extinct Languages

    Sadder still was this comment " It is believed that 90% of the circa 7,000 languages currently spoken in the world will have become extinct by 2050..."

    1. That's a terrible statistic, Jingles, and a depressingly long list. I shall hope that all these dying languages will be taught very easily and completely to a brilliant piece of software, and so be safe and accessible forever.

  2. Fascinating as ever! How many of these languages has a literature, though? I"m not 100% sure that Hebrew died out entirely but certainly the Bible didn't and that has always been read, so to speak, in the original which is near enough to modern Hebrew, though archaic. A bit like us and the King James Bible...really interesting post....

    1. Hebrew did die out completely as a native language. The story of its revival is truly wonderful and can be found at

  3. I may be wrong on this, but isn't the definition of a 'dead language' one that no longer has any native speakers? Thus, Latin is a dead language, because, although people do speak it, none of them have it as a first language.

    If that's the case, is it really so that these languages died but were then revived to the point of having a new generation of native speakers?

    If that's true, that truly is remarkable.

    1. Yes, that's how I understand a dead language, Eddie, and that's what I understand to have happened to these languages. Again, the link above to the revitalisation post tells the story of how it happened to Hebrew. It all started with just one baby.