Those 6 Million Forms of Communication Probably Don’t Include Koro

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Koro is a new (well, old) language discovered in 2008 by a couple of field linguists, doing research in northeastern-most state of India.  They announced their findings, along with their efforts to date to preserve it against its eventual extinction yesterday.  Koro is spoken by only about 800 people in Arunachal Pradesh, and the most striking thing about it is its uniqueness.

According to Gregory Anderson, the director of the nonprofit that funded the research:

Their language is quite distinct on every level—the sound, the words, the sentence structure.

The researchers themselves said it was “as distinct from [the languages] spoken by other villagers as English is from Russian.”

With the children in the village often sent to English or Hindi speaking boarding schools, Koro probably won’t be around for long as a living language.  But sound recordings (Koro has no written alphabet) that researchers will compile into a digital dictionary will preserve the language’s unique way of conceptualizing the world for the future.

In the meantime, National Geographic has provided The Wall Street Journal with some sample definitions: “head” is pronounced “jew-prah,” “sun” is “may-nay,” and “night” is “may-pah.”  The Journal article also has links to five different recordings of Koro sentences worth a listen.

To the researchers, and their dedication to preserving even the obscurest form of communications, we can only say “kah-plah-yeh.”

Um.  That’s “thank you” in Koro.  Did we pronounce that right?

Alternate Title: Do They Speak Koro in What?

(via Neatorama.)


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