10 Extinct Languages of the U.S.

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A language is said to have gone extinct when there is no native speaker or no spoken descendant of such a language again. It will interest you to know that many of them in the United States have gone into extinction. These mainly belong to ancient Native American ethnic groups and tribes. Here are 10 of such dead languages:

Chitimacha

This language was spoken in the past by the Chitimacha people who inhabited what is now Louisiana, especially in the southern parts. The speech was officially classified as dead following the demise of its last fluent speaker in the person of Delphine Ducloux in 1940. Even though Chitimacha is no longer in use today, there has been detailed documentation by linguists interested in it. Presently, there are efforts to revive the language.

Tonkawa

This language was predominant in the past in places like Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico by Tonkawa people but it went extinct around 1940. Those of Tonkawa root today speak only English, and there are no plans to revive the native language.

Eyak

This language was spoken in Alaska as recent as 2008. But following the death of Marie Smith Jones at the age of 89, the language became an extinct tongue. She was the last full-blooded Eyak and the only person who could speak the language fluently. She tried her best to preserve it by writing the grammar rules and even a dictionary for the language. She went as far as giving two moving speeches in the United Nations about why it is crucial to preserve indigenous languages, but her efforts did not yield the desired results. She had nine kids, but not one of them learned Eyak.

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Tunica

This language was spoken in Louisiana until it vanished in the 1930s. The last native speaker of Tunica was Sesotrie Youchigant, and he had tried to write down all he could remember. Even though it is still extinct, there are efforts to revive it.

Susquehannock

This is one native American language that has remained dead for centuries. It is one of the Iroquois languages, and it was not even known that it existed if not for a book written by Johannes Campanius in the 17th century. Campanius was a Swedish missionary, and he was only able to gather only 100 words in the vocabulary guide he wrote.

Siuslaw

This is a language from the Pacific Coast of Oregon that has remained extinct since the 1970s, but there is a remarkable record in place. The record is good enough for anyone who has the time and passion for learning it. Even with all these materials, there are just a handful of fluent people in the language.

Yoncalla

This was also called Yonkalla or Southern Kalapuya, and it was once spoken all over the southwestern region of Oregon. It is connected to the Northern Kalapuya and Central Kalapuya. This language went into extinction in the 1930s, and the last known person to make use of the language was Laura Blackery Albertson. Albertson was not a fluent user of the language back in 1937 when the record was taken.

Atakapa

This is an extinct language that was once native to parts of Texas and Louisiana. It was used by the Atakapa people but by the early part of the 20th century; it was gone. There were numerous studies by linguists regarding the dialects of the language before it finally went into extinction. Some linguists like John Swanton, think that the language is similar to Tunica and Chitimacha or even the Muskogean and Natchez languages.

Biloxi

Biloxi is an extinct language that belonged to the Siouan family. It was used by the Biloxi people in modern-day Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The death of Emma Jackson in the 1930s signaled the end of the language as an active one. Europeans and the Biloxi people had their first encounter in 1699 close to the Pascagoula River in southeastern Mississippi. The language spiraled quickly into disuse, so much so that by the beginning of the 19th century, there was a dramatic decrease in the number of speakers.

Karankawa

Here is an unclassified and extinct language spoken by the Karankawa people of the coast of Texas. It went into extinction in 1858, but today, about 200 words remain preserved in records. There are no known efforts to revive the language, and it most likely remains lost forever.

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