Language of the week: Pirahã

Pirahã is an isolate, spoken by about 150 people in the Amazon. It’s technically not an isolate, I guess, but the only other known relation is now extinct. The Piraha are monolingual and are reported to have no interest in other languages (reminds me of some speakers of a certain West Germanic language).

There is a lot of information on Pirahã on the web.

  • Ethnologue’s entry for Pirahã gives a long list of papers
  • The wikipedia entry is considerably longer than many, and has a good collection of external links.
  • A Pirahã dictionary.
  • The linguoblogosphere has also been interested in Pirahã, of course. Two posts by Language Hat, for example, and Language Log also talks about it from time to time (including the bizarre hate mail that got sent around recently)

There’s more, but those links (and the links they contain) should be enough for now. That’s a fairly large amount of information for a group that have no interest in having their language written and not much interest in having it learned by others. I wonder when they’ll get their Microsoft localisation?

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