Translation Companies Cannot Translate ANY Language

– Or even most languages, for that matter. We have warned against online translation groups that claim to be able to translate ANY language. Why? Because there are over 7,000 language in the world! Sure, plenty of translation companies can translate any major language, or any one of 150+ languages… but for any company to claim that they can translate any or every language possible – well, that’s a big fat red flag of a dishonest company. Buyer beware.

But enough about dishonest companies – this is actually just a short, lighthearted blog of what we call “FLFs” – Fun Language Facts. Every now again you need to have a blog full of relatively impractical facts that will likely never be useful within day to day life, but are still fun to read about – or in this case, actually a bit sad to read about, as many of these languages are probably now extinct.

Endangered and/or Recently Extinct Languages

Over 46 languages have been recently recorded as having one to ten speakers left. Some of these languages are probably already extinct, since quite a few were last recorded as having only one speaker left over two decades ago. That being said, here is a working list of nearly extinct (and many cases, likely already extinct) languages:

  • 1. Apiaka – This language, spoken within the Tupi language family of northern Brazil, had only one speaker as recorded in 2007.
  • 2. Bikya and Bishuo – Two languages [were] spoken in the very north-western region of Cameroon, Africa. Both languages were recorded in 1986 as having only one speaker left – which means both are likely extinct today.
  • 3. Chana – spoken by only speaker according to documented sources in 2008, within the capital city of Parana, Entre Rios, in Argentina.
  • 4. Dampal – As of 2000, Unesco reported only one speaker existed in the Bankir region of Indonesia.
  • 5. Diahoi (also known by 5 other similar names) – as of 2006, one speaker was left in the indigenous lands of Diahui, middle Madiera river, Southern Amazonas State in Brazil.
  • 6. Kaixana – as reported in 2008, there was one speaker left, a 78 yr old man, who lived in Limoeiro, in the state of Amazonas, Brazil.
  • 7. Laua – A language found in the Central Province of Papau New Guinea, and nearly extinct, with one documented speaker found left in 2000.
  • 8. Patwin – A native American language whose tribal descendents live in the northwest U.S. outside of San Francisco and Colusa, CA. As of 1997, only one fluent speaker of Patwin remained.
  • 9. Pazeh – an indigenous tribe and language of Taiwan had only one speaker left in 2008, Mrs. Pan Jin Yu.
  • 10. Pemono – not to be confused with Pemona, it is spoken in Venezuela by one remaining speaker in Upper Majagua village.
  • 11. Taje – spoken by one remaining person as recorded in 2000, in the region of Sulawesi, Indonesia.
  • 12. Taushiro – if you think like me, you’re thinking – oh, some kind of rare Japanese language? Nope – it’s an isolated language in Peru, also known as Pinche or Tausiro in Spanish. Taushiro speakers, originating in the Lareto Province and Tigre River basin regions, married non-Taushiro speakers and assimilated into other language cultures. As of 2008, there was one known speaker left.
  • 13. Tinigua is a language that was once spoken around the Yari River of Colombia, but most of those descendents now live in the Sierra de la Macarena, and now speak other languages. The last known speaker was documented in 2008.
  • 14. Tolowa – Tolowa is the language of the Native American Tolowa tribe, and spoken moderately by a few members and fluently by one person as of 2008, in the Smith River Rancheria, which is a sovereign nation.
  • 15. Wintu-Nomlaki – this language is spoken by the Wintu tribe of California, residing along the Sacramento River and south of Red Bluff, and is notable because of its two dialects: Nomlaki and Wintu. As of 2008, there was one fluent speaker remaining and a few non-fluent speakers.

There are many, many more languages as recorded by UNESCO and especially Christopher Moseley’s Encyclopedia of the World’s Endangered Languages – which is a fascinating and unique source of immaculately detailed lists and other information on extremely rare and endangered languages. Well worth a look, if even just to look up the languages that are recently extinct and/or endangered in your local area.

For instance, I was more than a little disappointed that the Native American Susquehannatoc language – the namesake of our Susquehanna River that runs through the center of my local region – has been extinct since the beginning of the 20th century, and had very little documented references. However, it is also encouraging to read that many Native American languages and dialects are being actively taught and passed down through collaborative efforts within reservations, often with the support of local or state government funding or cooperatives. Still, the majority of individual Native American tribal tongues have been extinct for over a century, along with hundreds – even thousands, perhaps – of indigenous languages all over the world.