Profile of an Endangered Language: Dusner

Lionbridge onDemand is proud to be bringing you this blog series designed to profile some of the world's thousands of endangered languages. Yes, that's right - some languages are, in fact, in danger of going extinct. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) sets forth the criteria for and categorizes languages that may be endangered or extinct.

This week, we will learn about a language that UNESCO currently characterizes as "critically endangered": Dusner.

Ponder the thought of only knowing two other humans that understand your dialect. Communicating, connecting, and thriving would be nearly impossible when trying to bond culturally with those surrounding you. The struggles facing the extinction of languages world-wide seems like a far fetch concept to grasp while living in the 21st century.

Nevertheless, the spoken tribal language in the Wandamen Bay area Cenderwasih in Papua, Indonesia, is critically endangered. It’s been reported that there are only three remaining speakers left. However, even these speakers are endangered, as they suffered injuries from recent natural disasters. Not to mention, these three people are all over the age of 60 years old, with the life expectancy of citizens of Indonesia typically being no older than 80 years. So, ultimately the focal goal is to save Dusner!

 The Dusner language desperately needs support and awareness brought to it to restore its unique culture. Supporting the Dusner language movement are a group of researchers from Oxford University’s Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics. These researchers have begun a project where they document the vocabulary and grammar of the language.

This Dusner Language Research can be broken down more on an official website.

In addition, this website provides full biographies regarding the three remaining fluent Dusner speakers.

Ultimately there is a major race to record this rare language in Indonesia. Especially because the language was only recently discovered by Oxford University just last year! If they had not discovered the language of Dusner in time, it would be lost forever.

The Bottom Line:

The blame for this diminishing language can mainly be targeted towards the parents living in this region of Indonesia. Over the years, many parents have realized that their children have a better chance of going to a university or getting a job if they speak Malay, which is Indonesia’s main tongue. As a result, the Dunsner language is only hanging on by a thread!

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