Friday, March 10, 2017

What does it mean when a language is said to go extinct?

Wikipedia has a lot of categories of language extinction. By century or by millennium.

You are free to either recite the list solemnly or skim over it. I am not your classroom teacher, and I don't sit behind a camera checking you out. You do as you please.

  • "Languages extinct in the 21st century"

    Ruga language, Sambe language.

    And even some more, like a dialect of Lakotan.

  • "Languages extinct in the 20th century"

    A-Pucikwar language, Aka-Cari language, Aka-Kede language, Aka-Kol language, Akar-Bale language, Oko-Juwoi language, Asa language, Atakapa language, and Auregnais.

    Butler English.

    Cacaopera language, Catawba language, Chagatai language, Chicomuceltec language, Cochimí language, Cruzeño language, and Culle language.

    Damakawa language and Dzubukua.

    Sirenik Eskimo language.

    ǃGãǃne language.

    Ineseño language, Ingain language, and Island Chumash language.

    Jangil and Jersey Dutch.

    Kamakan language, Kamassian language, Kemi Sami language, Kilit dialect, Kipea language, and Kyakhta Russian–Chinese Pidgin.

    Lipan language.

    Marawan language, Miami-Illinois language, Miluk language, and Mpra language.

    Obispeño language.

    Piro Pueblo language, Portugis language, Purisimeño language, Sened language, Sensi language, and Slovincian language.

    Tepecano language, Tequiraca language, Tongva language, and Tsetsaut language.

    Ventureño language.

    Wanyi language.

    ǀXam language. I also so a note it had gone extinct in the 21:st century.

    Yaygir language, Yugh language, Yuki language, and Yuri language (of the Amazon river).

  • "Languages extinct in the 19th century"

    Abipón language (which was spoken by a people in South America, as I know from Karl May, without even looking at the article), Adai language, Assan language, and Awabakal language.

    Boro language (of Ghana) and Broken Slavey.

    Coroado Puri language.

    Esselen language.

    Jeikó language.

    Kott language.

    Massachusett language, Mator language, and Mediterranean Lingua Franca.

    Nauo language, Niuatoputapu language, and Nuenonne language.

    Paredarerme language, Peerapper language, Port Sorell language, and Purí language.


    Sandy River Valley Sign Language, Siraya language, Strand Frisian, and to continue on T: Taita Cushitic languages, Tommeginne language, and Toogee language.

    Vanji language.

    West Greenlandic Pidgin.

    Yokohama Pidgin Japanese and Yurats language.

    Note there was more than one auxiliary language which went extinct in the very century where Zamenhoff hoped to found one : Yokohama Pidgin Japanese, West Greenlandic Pidgin, Mediterranean Lingua Franca and possibly Broken Slavey too were all in use as auxiliary languages, helping communication, not by idealist clubs by people who generously renounce using English or French or Spanish or Russian or whatever suits, but by people who had no other language in common.

    This is not doubt due to the fact of bettered language education in many parts - where it is not the fact or a people losing its language, but in thesee three cases, the main factor would be Eskimos learning Danish better, Japanese learning English better, Maghrebin and other Mediterranean Orientals learning French better - in some cases because they had to.

    The same linguists who improved knowledge of well used languages also preserved memories of dying and dead ones, including the no longer needed auxiliary languages, of these three no doubt the Mediterranean Lingua Franca was the most venerable one. It had been in use since the Crusades.

  • "Languages extinct in the 18th century"

    Algonquian–Basque pidgin, Apalachee language, and Arin language.

    However, with Algonquian-Basque Pidgin, it is possible at least one of those using the help language, and probably at least the Basques of that region, lost theirs.

    Calusa language, Caranqui language, Carolina Algonquian language, Chané language, Ch’olti’ language, Chuvan language, and Cuman language.

    Eiderstedt Frisian.

    Kainuu Sami language.

    Labrador Inuit Pidgin French, Língua Geral of São Paulo, and Loup language.


    Old Prussian language and Omok language.

    Pericú language, Plateau Sign Language, Polabian language, Powhatan language, Pumpokol language, and Puquina language.

    Sissipahaw, Solano language, and Susquehannock language.

    Tawasa language and Timucua language.

    Waikuri language and Wursten Frisian.

    While Wursten Frisian may have died as long agao as Waikuri, it is still not as dead, because other dialects of Frisian live one.

  • "Languages extinct in the 17th century"

    Allentiac language and Andalusian Arabic.

    Basque–Icelandic pidgin. Which could have become extinct due to lessened trade between a now Protestant Iceland and Spain and France - or due to ... I checked : Icelanders must have become better at French and Spanish, since the mixture was between Basque and these two with some Dutch. It is possible non-Icelanders also used it, but the Icelanders were the only ones noting it down on papers preserved to us. It does not include Icelandic words, but an Icelandic translation.

    Cazcan language and Coptic language.

    Early Modern English, Egyptian language (which I already said, since Coptic and Egyptian are the same), Erie language, and Etchemin language.

    Guanche language.

    Middle Odia and Millcayac language.

    Narragansett language.

    Pidgin Delaware.

    Saukiog, Scahentoarrhonon and Sudovian language.

    Let's be precise, Sudovian is not a Slavonic language as you might imagine, it is a Baltic one, close to Old Prussian.

    Yao language (Trinidad)

  • "Languages extinct in the 16th century"

    Ciguayo language and Curonian language.

    Guanahatabey language.

    Laurentian language.

    Macorix language.

    Renaissance Latin !

    Taíno language and Tangut language.

  • "Languages extinct in the 15th century"

    Anglo-Norman language.

    Greenlandic Norse.

    Jassic dialect.

    Medieval Greek ! and Medieval Latin !

    Middle English and Middle Turkic languages.

  • "Languages extinct in the 14th century"


    Early Middle Odia.

    Old Norse and Old West Norse.

    Zarphatic language.

  • "Languages extinct in the 13th century"

    Daylami language.

    Old English.

    Pyu language (of Burma).

  • "Languages extinct in the 12th century"

    Old Odia and Pecheneg language.

  • "Languages extinct in the 11th century"

    Early West Saxon and Khwarezmian language.

  • "Languages extinct in the 10th century"

    Himyaritic language and Middle Indo-Aryan languages.

  • "Languages extinct in the 9th century"

    Tocharian languages and Old Irish.

  • "Languages extinct in the 8th century"

    Caucasian Albanian language.

    Old Tamil language.

    Proto-Norse language.

    Western Brittonic languages.

  • "Languages extinct in the 7th century"

    Arcadocypriot Greek.

    British Latin.

    Buyeo language.

  • "Languages extinct in the 6th century"

    Ancient Cappadocian language.

    Ancient Greek (sic!) and Late Latin (sic!)

  • "Languages extinct in the 5th century"

    Median language.

    Phoenician language or Punic language or, if two different things, both.

    Thracian language. To which we do not trace Albanian or Bulgarian or Romanian, even if we would like to.

  • "Languages extinct in the 4th century"

    Meroitic language and Mishnaic Hebrew.

  • "Languages extinct in the 3rd century"

    Aramaic of Hatra.

    Classical Latin (sic!)

    Old Aramaic language.

    Rhaetian language.

  • "Languages extinct in the 2nd century"

    Armazic language, but that is only one language not two or more languages.

  • "Languages extinct in the 1st century"

    Biblical Hebrew and Minaean language.

  • "Languages extinct in the 1st century BC"

    Doric Greek.

    Etruscan language.

    Ligurian language (ancient).

    Messapian language.

    Umbrian language, Venetic language and Vestinian language.

    Did I count U with V? Yes, back then it was the same letter!

  • "Languages extinct in the 3rd century BC"

    Aeolic Greek and Attic Greek.

    Carian language and Eteocretan language.

    Oh, more Greek, namely Ionic Greek.

    Late Biblical Hebrew.

    This is however a matter of definition, it means the last book we have in Hebrew is from this century if it is in the Bible - and if it is in Mishna, it counts as Mishnaic Hebrew instead of as Biblical, even late Biblical.

  • "Languages extinct in the 4th century BC"

    Ancient Macedonian language.

    It seems, Alexander the Great destroyed his own dialect as promptly as non-Koiné versions of Greek.

    Eteocypriot language and Sicani.

  • "Languages extinct in the 5th century BC"

    Ammonite language.

    Could also be the case for Moabite language, which is not noted by century but is in this millennium. The same is true of the Edomite language which like Ammonite and Moabite are very close to Hebrew.

    Camunic also destroyed (or at least disused) in the first millennium BC, but later. And it is not related to Hebrew, as far as we know. Its alphabet has similarities to runes, and was in use as late as 50 BC (within the lifetime of Odin).

  • "Languages extinct in the 6th century BC"

    Lemnian language.

    Archaic Biblical Hebrew and Standard Biblical Hebrew. But, as we know, other versions of Hebrew persisted some time.

  • "Languages extinct in the 8th century BC"


    For centuries, Akkadian was the native language in Mesopotamian nations such as Assyria and Babylonia. Because of the might of various Mesopotamian empires, such as the Akkadian Empire, Old Assyrian Empire, Babylonian Empire, and Middle Assyrian Empire, Akkadian became the lingua franca of much of the Ancient Near East. However, it began to decline during the Neo-Assyrian Empire around the 8th century BC, being marginalized by Aramaic during the reign of Tiglath-pileser III. By the Hellenistic period, the language was largely confined to scholars and priests working in temples in Assyria and Babylonia. The last known Akkadian cuneiform document dates from the 1st century AD.

  • "Languages extinct in the 9th century BC"

    Philistine language

  • "Languages extinct in the 11th century BC"

    Cypro-Minoan syllabary.

    Hurrian language.

  • "Languages extinct in the 12th century BC"

    Mycenaean Greek.

  • "Languages extinct in the 13th century BC"

    Hittite language

  • "Languages extinct in the 14th century BC"

    Palaic language

  • "Languages extinct in the 20th century BC"

    Old Egyptian language

  • "Languages extinct in the 2nd millennium BC"

    Amorite language.

    Hattic language.

    Minoan language.

    Sumerian language Note :

    Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as a spoken language around 2000 BC (the exact dating being a matter of debate),[5] but Sumerian continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in Mesopotamia until the 1st century AD.

  • "Languages extinct in the 3rd millennium BC"

    Elamite language.

And languages gone extinct prior to Elamite are not noted, because not attested before going extinct.

So, if Sumerian language went extinct in the second millennium BC, could Odin in the 1:st Century BC have known it? Or if Akkadian went extinct 8 centuries before he lived, could he have known it?

As a native speaker, raised in Sumerian or Akkadian from his cradle, or as speaking to native speakers, not so. Not any more than we could know Classical or Medieval Latin that way.

But he could have known Sumerian, like we can know Classical or nearly same thing Medieval Latin. As a language he had studied. Or Koiné, a k a Ancient Greek, a k a Medieval Greek, a k a Katharévousa, also known as not yet extinct.

So, when did Sumerian and Etruscan go extinct again? As native languages, second millennium BC and 1:st C AD. But as learned languages, in each case later.

I think it was in St Jerome's or St Augustine's time, or even St Gregory's that the last Haruspex tried to chant his chants in Etruscan and was laughed at.

But Etruscan went extinct as a native language and Akkadian and Sumerian as even learned languages, in 1:st Century. Because that was the Century of Christ? Because those were languages of idolatry.

Christ had the power to end idolatries of very relevant matter of disgust to the Hebrews. Because He was the true Christ. And remains so.


Hans Georg Lundahl
Nanterre UL
Ember Friday
of Lent

No comments: