Rare Language of the Month: Dusner

Have you ever heard of Dusner? No? Well, that’s hardly a surprise!

Dusner has only 3 native speakers left. Linguists from Oxford University have been racing to document it before it is lost. The studies being carried out were threatened by a stroke of bad luck recently. All three of the language’s elderly speakers were affected by natural disasters. Two were hit by floods, and the other survived a volcanic eruption! Researchers feared that all was lost, as they lost contact with the group. Thankfully, they have now managed to get in touch with them, and have started to document the language.

Here are a few facts about this rare language:

– Dusner is spoken in the province of Papua, Indonesia.
– It is becoming extinct because many parents believe their children will have better prospects if they are raised speaking Malay, rather than Dusner.
– The language has an unusual numeric system. For example, the number six is rindi yoser, a mixture of the words for five (rindi) and one (yoser).
– Dusner is a member of a rather elite club… it is one of around 130 languages which have less than ten speakers.

What do you think of these efforts to preserve rare languages?

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