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Pop, whistle, tut! Dialects from across the world.

Here are 5 dialects spanning the planet, all of which will surprise you for one reason or another. Learn about the sounds, origin and history – and you can also take a listen!

Sadly, it’s estimated that a language or dialect becomes extinct every 2 weeks. Not only is this disastrous for the population of the countries affected, but also for the identity of individuals, for history and for society as a whole. Below is a quick snapshot of some of the most fascinating dialects from around the world; all of which stand to prove the importance of keeping dialects alive!

 

Xhosa

Region: South Africa

Estimated number of native speakers: 8 million

What is fascinating about this language is that the meaning of words is differentiated by the use of clicks and tonal variations. One word can have a number of different meanings, all of which are distinguishable by the tone. The click sound is represented by the letters c, x and q. The ‘c’ is a ‘tut-tut’ sound, the ‘q’ is a kind of cork-popping sound and the x is a teeth-sucking sound!

Take a listen here!

 

 

 

Silbo Gomero

Region: La Gomera, Canary Islands

Estimated number of native speakers: 22,000

Inhabitants of this small island created a distinctive language of their own which allows them to communicate clearly over large ravines and valleys – they whistle! They’ve replaced the 5 vowels in Spanish with different whistled tones; consonants are represented by dropping from high to low pitch, low to high pitch, breaks, steadiness and volume. Amazing!

Take a listen here!

 

 

Rotokas

Region: Bougainville, Papua New Guinea

Estimated number of native speakers: 4,000

The interesting thing about this language is that it only has a mere 12 letters and only 11 phonemes (sounds), it’s therefore considered one of the simplest languages in the world. Unusually, there is no ‘nasal’ sound (like the ‘n’ sound in English). In fact, the only time Rotokas does include a nasal tone, is when speakers are imitating foreigners who attempt to speak Rotokas!

Take a listen here:

 

 

Ayapaneco

Region: Tabasco, Mexico

Estimated number of native speakers: 2

What’s interesting about this language?! Did you miss the number above? Yes – only 2 speakers of this language remain, and their names are Manuel and Isidro. What’s even worse is that for quite some time Manuel and Isidro weren’t even talking to each other after a falling out! Fortunately, the pair have now made amends and the language has been brought back from the brink of extinction. On top of that they’re also offering lessons to anyone in their community who’d like to learn the language in order to ensure its survival – good work Manuel and Isidro!

Take a listen here:

 

 

Sentinelese

Region: North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal

Estimated number of native speakers: unknown

What do we know about this language? The answer is simple: nothing! No person outside of the community in which it is spoken has ever witnessed the language being used. People who have attempted to engage with or even enter this community have been attacked. So, don’t let curiosity get the better of you!

 

Here at PLS, we teach over 50 languages (and dialects), so if you’re feeling inspired and would like to start learning a language today – get in touch.

 

References

https://wikitongues.org/

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/lists/languages-endangered-where-to-find/

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/endangered-languages/faq-on-endangered-languages/

https://www.fluentu.com/blog/obscure-languages/

http://www.cornishdictionary.org.uk/?locale=en#gromerci&sln=kw

 

 

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