Friday, January 25, 2008


So, yesterday a language went extinct.

To be more specific, the last living member of the Eyak people died at age 89.

Although she helped scholars create a dictionary so that some of her people's language could be preserved, she was the last native speaker; her children grew up speaking only English. Nor is this situation unusual: in fact, the article goes on to note that about twenty other Alaskan languages are in similar straits. John McWhorter, in THE POWER OF BABEL, estimates that ninety percent of all languages spoken at the time his book was written [2001] will be extinct by the end of this century, with most of the rest reduced to the status of secondary languages used in the home, but not for day-to-day communications.

And, speaking of passings, it turns out that earlier this month the last German veteran of World War I passed away quietly at the age of 107:

--John R.

No comments: