language isolate

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language isolate
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{{short description|Natural language with no demonstrable genealogical relationship with other languages}}{{More footnotes|date=April 2017}}A language isolate, in the absolute sense, is a natural language with no demonstrable genealogical (or "genetic") relationship with other languages, one that has not been demonstrated to descend from an ancestor common with any other language. Language isolates are in effect language families consisting of a single language. Commonly cited examples include Ainu, Basque, Korean, Sumerian, Elamite, and Vedda, though in each case a minority of linguists claim to have demonstrated a relationship with other languages.JOURNAL, Campbell, Lyle, 2010-08-24, Language Isolates and Their History, or, What's Weird, Anyway?, Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, en, 36, 1, 16–31, 10.3765/bls.v36i1.3900, 2377-1666, Some sources use the term "language isolate" to indicate a branch of a larger family with only one surviving member. For instance, Albanian, Armenian and Greek are commonly called Indo-European isolates. While part of the Indo-European family, they do not belong to any established branch (such as the Romance, Indo-Iranian, Celtic, Slavic or Germanic branches), but instead form independent branches. Similarly, within the Romance languages, Sardinian is a relative isolate. However, without a qualifier, isolate is understood to mean having no demonstrable genetic relationship to any other known language.Some languages once seen as isolates may be reclassified as small families. This happened with Japanese (now included in the Japonic family along with Ryukyuan languages such as Okinawan) and Georgian (now the most dominant or standard of the Kartvelian languages of the Caucasus). The Etruscan language of Italy has long been considered an isolate, but some have proposed that it is related to the so-called Tyrsenian languages, an extinct family of closely related ancient languages proposed by Helmut Rix (1998), including the Rhaetian, formerly spoken in the central Alps, and the Lemnian language, formerly spoken on the Greek island of Lemnos. Language isolates may be seen as a special case of unclassified languages that remain unclassified even after extensive efforts. If such efforts eventually do prove fruitful, a language previously considered an isolate may no longer be considered one, as happened with the Yanyuwa language of northern Australia, which has been placed in the Pama–Nyungan family. Since linguists do not always agree on whether a genetic relationship has been demonstrated, it is often disputed whether a language is an isolate or not.

"Genetic" or "genealogical" relationships

The term "genetic relationship" is meant in the genealogical sense of historical linguistics, which groups most languages spoken in the world today into a relatively small number of families, according to reconstructed descent from common ancestral languages. A "genetic relationship" is a connection between languages, like similarities in vocabulary or grammar, that can be attributed to a common ancestral proto-language that diverged into multiple languages or branches. For example, English is related to other Indo-European languages and Mandarin Chinese is related to other Sino-Tibetan languages. By this criterion, each language isolate constitutes a family of its own, which explains the exceptional interest that these languages have received from linguists.BOOK, Language contact, creolization, and genetic linguistics, Grey., Thomason, Sarah, Kaufman, Terrence, 1937-, 978-0520078932, Berkeley, 16525266, 1991,

Looking for relationships

It is possible that all natural languages spoken in the world today are related by direct or indirect descent from a single ancestral tongue. The established language families would then be only the upper branches of the genealogical tree of all languages, or, equally, lower progeny of a parent tongue. For this reason, language isolates have been the object of numerous studies seeking to uncover their genealogy. For instance, Basque has been compared with every living and extinct Eurasian language family known, from Sumerian to Kartvelian, without conclusive results.In some situations, a language with no ancestor can arise. This frequently happens with sign languages—most famously in the case of Nicaraguan Sign Language, where deaf children with no language were placed together and developed a new language. Similarly, if deaf parents were to raise a group of hearing children who have no contact with others until adulthood, they might develop an oral language among themselves and keep using it later, teaching it to their children, and so on. Eventually, it could develop into the full-fledged language of a population. With unsigned languages, this is not very likely to occur at any one time but, over the tens of thousands of years of human prehistory, the likelihood of this occurring at least a few times increases. There are also creole languages and constructed languages such as Esperanto, which do not descend directly from a single ancestor but have become the language of a population; however, they do take elements from existing languages.

Extinct isolates

Caution is required when speaking of extinct languages as isolates. Despite their great age, Sumerian and Elamite can be safely classified as isolates, as the languages are well enough known that, if modern relatives existed, they would be recognizably related.{{Citation needed|date=April 2018}}However, many extinct languages are very poorly attested, and the fact that they cannot be linked to other languages may be a reflection of our poor knowledge of them. Hattic, Gutian,Jump up ^ Mallory, J.P.; Mair, Victor H. (2000). The Tarim Mummies. London: Thames & Hudson. pp. 281–282. {{ISBN|978-0-500-05101-6}}. and Kassite are also believed to be isolates by mainstream majority, but their status is disputed by a minority of linguists. Many extinct languages of the Americas such as Cayuse and Majena may likewise have been isolates. A language thought to be an isolate may turn out to be relatable to other languages once enough material is recovered, but material is unlikely to be recovered if a language was not documented in writing.

Sign language isolates

{{further|Deaf-community sign language|Village sign language}}A number of sign languages have arisen independently, without any ancestral language, and thus are true language isolates. The most famous of these is the Nicaraguan Sign Language, a well documented case of what has happened in schools for the deaf in many countries. In Tanzania, for example, there are seven schools for the deaf, each with its own sign language with no known connection to any other language.Tanzanian Sign Language (TSL) Dictionary. H.R.T. Muzale, University of Dar es Salaam, 2003 Sign languages have also developed outside schools, in communities with high incidences of deafness, such as Kata Kolok in Bali, the Adamorobe Sign Language in Ghana, the Urubu Sign Language in Brazil, several Mayan sign languages, and half a dozen sign languages of the hill tribes in Thailand including the Ban Khor Sign Language.Studies are also being conducted on Al-Sayyid Bedouin Sign Language (ABSL) in an isolated village in Israel. The language was developed in isolation for over 75 years by both deaf and hearing people within the village.NEWS,weblink American Sign Language, 2015-08-18, NIDCD, en, 2017-01-25, These and more are all presumed isolates or small local families, because many deaf communities are made up of people whose hearing parents do not use sign language, and have manifestly, as shown by the language itself, not borrowed their sign language from other deaf communities during the recorded history of these languages.{{Citation needed|date=September 2008}}

List of language isolates by continent

{{Refimprove section|date=February 2007}}Below is a list of known language isolates, arranged by continent, along with notes on possible relations to other languages or language families.The Status column indicates the long-term viability of the language, according to the definitions of the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.{{Citation needed|date=March 2019}} "Vibrant" languages are those in full use by speakers of every generation, with consistent native acquisition by children. "Vulnerable" languages have a similarly wide base of native speakers, but a restricted use and the long-term risk of language shift. "Endangered" languages are either acquired irregularly or only spoken by older generations. "Moribund" languages have only a few remaining native speakers, with no new acquisition, highly restricted use, and near-universal bilingualism. "Extinct" languages have no native speakers, but are sufficiently documented to be classified as isolates.


{{further|Languages of Africa#Unclassified languages}}With few exceptions, all of Africa's languages have been gathered into four major phyla: Afroasiatic, Niger–Congo, Nilo-Saharan and Khoisan.Blench, Roger. 2017. African language isolates. In Language Isolates, edited by Lyle Campbell, pp. 176-206. Routledge. However, the genetic unity of some language families, like Nilo-Saharan and Khoisan, is questionable, and so there may be many more language families and isolates than currently accepted. Data for several African languages, like Kwadi and Kwisi, are not sufficient for classification. In addition, Jalaa, Shabo, Laal, Kujargé, and a few other languages within Nilo-Saharan and Afroasiatic-speaking areas may turn out to be isolates upon further investigation. Defaka and Ega are highly divergent languages located within Niger-Congo-speaking areas, and may also possibly be language isolates.WEB,weblink Niger-Congo: an Alternative View, Blench, Roger, {| class="wikitable sortable" CELLPADDING="5" RULES="ALL"! Language! Speakers! Status! Countries! Comments
Bangime language>Bangime|2,000| Vibrant|Mali| Spoken in the Bandiagara Escarpment. Used as an anti-language.
Hadza language>Hadza|1,000|Vulnerable|Tanzania| Spoken on the southern shore of Lake Eyasi in the southwest of Arusha Region. Once listed as an outlier among the Khoisan languages. Language use is vigorous, though there are fewer than 1,000 speakers.
Jalaa language>Jalaa|200| Moribund|NigeriaBauchi State. Poorly known. Strongly influenced by Dikaka language>Dikaka, but most vocabulary is very unusual.
Laal language>Laal|750|Moribund|ChadChari River in Moyen-Chari Region. Poorly known. Also known as Gori. Possibly a distinct branch of Niger–Congo, Chadic languages>Chadic of the Afroasiatic languages, or mixed.
Sandawe language>Sandawe|60,000|Vibrant|Tanzania|Spoken in the northwest of Dodoma Region. Tentatively linked to the Khoe languages.
Shabo language>Shabo|400|Endangered|EthiopiaAnderaccha, Gecha, and Kaabo of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region. Linked to the Gumuz language>Gumuz and Koman languages families in the proposed Komuz languages>Komuz branch of the Nilo-Saharan languages

Asia{| class"wikitable sortable" rules"ALL" cellpadding"5"

! Language! Speakers! Status! Countries! Comments
Ainu languages>Ainu|10| Moribund|Japan, Russia| Formerly spoken on southern Sakhalin, and all of the Kuril Islands and Hokkaido, now reduced to a handful of speakers in Hokkaido. May actually constitute a small language family, if the extinct varieties are classed as languages rather than dialects. Possibly related to the unattested language of the Emishi.
| Burushaski|96,800|Vulnerable|Pakistan
Hunza Valley of Gilgit-Baltistan. Linked to Languages of the Caucasus>Caucasian languages, Indo-European, and Na-Dene languages in various proposals.
Elamite language>Elamite|| Extinct|IranElam, along the northeast coast of the Persian Gulf. Attested from around 2800 BC to 300 BC. Some propose a relationship to the Dravidian languages (see Elamo-Dravidian languages>Elamo-Dravidian), but this is not well-supported.
Korean language>Korean|77,230,000| Vibrant|North Korea, South Korea and Northeast ChinaAltaic languages had been proposed, but widely discredited.Georg et al. 1999: 73–74 It has also been proposed that Korean may be related to Japanese language>Japanese in the Classification of Japanese#Korean hypothesis, both with and without a common Altaic ancestor. Sometimes classified as a language family, forming the Koreanic languages>Koreanic family if the Jeju dialect is classified as a separate language rather than a Korean dialect.
Kusunda language>Kusunda|3| Moribund|Nepal| Spoken in the Gandaki Zone. The recent discovery of a few speakers shows that it is not demonstrably related to anything else.
Nihali language>Nihali|2,000| Endangered|IndiaMaharashtra and southwestern Madhya Pradesh, along the Tapti River. Strong lexical Munda languages>Munda influence from Korku. Used as anti-language by speakers.
Nivkh language>Nivkh|200| Moribund|Russia| Also known as Gilyak. Spoken in the lower Amur River basin and in the northern part of Sakhalin. Dialects sometimes considered two languages. Has been linked to Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages.
Sumerian language>Sumerian|| Extinct|IraqSumer. Included in various proposals involving everything from Basque language>Basque to the Sino-Tibetan languages.


The languages of New Guinea are poorly studied, and candidates for isolate status are likely to change when more becomes known about them. {| class="wikitable sortable" CELLPADDING="5" RULES="ALL"! Language! Speakers! Status! Countries! Comments
Abinomn language>Abinomn|300| Vibrant|IndonesiaNew Guinea. Also known as Bas New Guinea>or Foia. Language use is vigorous, despite low number of speakers.
Anêm language>Anêm ?|800| Vibrant|Papua New Guinea| Spoken on the northwest coast of New Britain. Perhaps related to Yélî Dnye and Ata.
Ata language>Ata ?|2,000|Vibrant|Papua New Guinea| Spoken in the central highlands of New Britain. Also known as Wasi. Perhaps related to Yélî Dnye and Anem.
Enindhilyagwa language>Enindhilyagwa ?|1,486| Vulnerable|Australia| Spoken on Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Also known as Andilyaugwa. Classified as part of the Macro-Gunwinyguan languages.
Giimbiyu language>Giimbiyu ?||Extinct|AustraliaArnhem Land until the early 1980s. Part of a proposal for an Arnhem Land languages>Arnhem Land language family.
Kol language (Papua New Guinea)>Kol|4,000| Vibrant|Papua New GuineaNew Britain. Possibly related to the poorly-known Sulka language>Sulka, or the Baining languages.
Kuot language>Kuot|2,400| Vulnerable|Papua New GuineaNew Ireland (island)>New Ireland. Also known as Panaras.
Malak-Malak language>Malak-Malak|10|Moribund|Australia|Spoken in northern Australia. Sometimes linked with the Wagaydyic languages in a Northern Daly family.
Murrinh-patha language>Murrinh-patha ?|1,973|Vibrant|AustraliaJoseph Bonaparte Gulf in the Top End. Proposed linkage to Ngan’gityemerri language>Ngan’gityemerri in Southern Daly family.
Ngan’gityemerri language>Ngan’gityemerri ?|26|Moribund|AustraliaTop End along the Daly River. Proposed linkage to Murrinh-patha language>Murrinh-patha in a Southern Daly family.
Tiwi language>Tiwi|2,040| Vulnerable|Australia| Spoken in the Tiwi Islands in the Timor Sea. Traditionally Tiwi is polysynthetic, but the Tiwi spoken by younger generations is not.
Wagiman language>Wagiman|11|Moribund|AustraliaTop End. Once thought to be a member of the Macro-Gunwinyguan languages>Macro-Gunwinyguan family, but this proposal has fallen out of favor.
Wardaman language>Wardaman|50|Moribund|AustraliaTop End. Sometimes the extinct and poorly-attested Dagoman and Yangman dialects are treated as separate languages in a Yagmanic family. Previously classified as Macro-Gunwinyguan languages>Macro-Gunwinyguan, but no evidence was found to support this.

Europe{| class"wikitable" CELLPADDING"5" RULES"ALL"

! Language! Speakers! Status! Countries! Comments
Basque language>BasqueVI° Enquête Sociolinguistique en Euskal herria (Communauté Autonome d'Euskadi, Navarre et Pays Basque Nord) (2016).) 1,185,500 passive speaker (language)>passive speakers| Vulnerable|Spain, FranceEuskara, the Basque language, found in the historical region of the Basque Country (greater region)>Basque Country between France and Spain, is the second most-widely spoken language isolate after Korean. It has no known living relatives, although Aquitanian language is commonly regarded as related to or a direct ancestor of Basque. Some linguists have claimed similarities with various languages of the Caucasus that are indicative of a relationship, while others have proposed a relation to Iberian language>Iberian and to the hypothetical Dené–Caucasian languages.

North America{| class"wikitable sortable" CELLPADDING"5" RULES"ALL"

! Language! Speakers! Status! Countries! Comments
Alsea language>Alsea||Extinct|United StatesOregon until 1942. Sometimes regarded as two separate languages. Often included in the Penutian languages>Penutian hypothesis in a Coast Oregon Penutian branch.
Atakapa language>Atakapa|| Extinct|United StatesTexas and southwestern Louisiana until the early 1900s. Often linked to Muskogean languages>Muskogean in a Gulf hypothesis.
Chimariko language>Chimariko|| Extinct|United StatesCalifornia until the 1950s. Part of the Hokan languages>Hokan hypothesis.
Chitimacha language>Chitimacha|| Extinct|United StatesLouisiana until 1940. Possibly in the Totozoquean languages>Totozoquean family of Mesoamerica.
Coahuilteco language>Coahuilteco|| Extinct|United States, MexicoTexas and northeastern Mexico until the 1700s. Part of the Hokan languages>Hokan hypothesis.
Cuitlatec language>Cuitlatec|| Extinct|MexicoGuerrero until the 1960s. Formerly considered Macro-Chibchan languages>Macro-Chibchan.
Esselen language>Esselen|| Extinct|United StatesBig Sur region of California until the early 1800s. Part of the Hokan languages>Hokan hypothesis.
Haida language>Haida|14| Moribund|Canada, United States| Spoken in the Haida Gwaii archipelago off the northwest coast of British Columbia, and the southern islands of the Alexander Archipelago in southeastern Alaska. Some proposals connect it to the Na-Dené languages, but these have fallen into disfavor.
Huave language>Huave|18,000| Endangered|Mexico| Spoken in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, in the southeast of Oaxaca state. Part of the Penutian hypothesis when extended to Mexico, but this idea has generally been abandoned.
Karuk language>Karuk|12| Moribund|United StatesKlamath River in northwestern California. Part of the Hokan languages>Hokan hypothesis.
Keres language>Keres|10,670|Endangered|United StatesNew Mexico, including Cochiti, New Mexico>Cochiti and Acoma Pueblos. Has two main dialects: Eastern and Western. Sometimes those two dialects are separated into languages in a Keresan family.
Kutenai language>Kutenai|245| Moribund|Canada, United StatesRocky Mountains>Rockies of northeastern Idaho, northwestern Montana and southeastern British Columbia. Attempts have been made to place it in a Macro-Algic or Macro-Salishan family, but these have not gained significant support.
Natchez language>Natchez|| Extinct|United StatesMississippi and eastern Louisiana until 1957. Often linked to Muskogean languages>Muskogean in a Gulf hypothesis. Attempts at revival have produced 6 people with some fluency.
Purépecha language>Purépecha|124,494| Endangered|MexicoMichoacán state. Language of the ancient Tarascan state>Tarascan kingdom. Sometimes regarded as two languages.
Salinan language>Salinan|| Extinct|United StatesCalifornia until 1958. Part of the Hokan languages>Hokan hypothesis.
Seri language>Seri|764| Vulnerable| MexicoGulf of California, in the southwest of Sonora state. Formerly spoken on Tiburón Island in the Gulf of California. Part of the Hokan languages>Hokan hypothesis.
Siuslaw language>Siuslaw|| Extinct| United StatesOregon until the 1970s. Likely related to Alsea language>Alsea, Coosan languages, or possibly the Wintuan languages. Part of the Penutian hypothesis.
Takelma language>Takelma|| Extinct| United StatesOregon until 1934. Part of the Penutian hypothesis. A specific relationship with Kalapuyan languages>Kalapuyan is now rejected.
Timucua language>Timucua|| Extinct| United StatesFlorida and southern Georgia (U.S. state)>Georgia until the late 1700s. A connection with the poorly known Tawasa language has been suggested, but this may be a dialect.
Tonkawa language>Tonkawa|| Extinct| United States| Spoken in central and northern Texas until the early 1940s.
Tunica language>Tunica|| Extinct| United States| Spoken in western Mississippi, northeastern Louisiana, and southeastern Arkansas until 1948. Attempts at revitalization have produced 32 second-language speakers.
Washo language>Washo|20| Moribund| United StatesTruckee River in the Sierra Nevada of eastern California and northwestern Nevada. Part of the Hokan languages>Hokan hypothesis.
Yana language>Yana|| Extinct| United StatesCalifornia until 1916. Part of the Hokan languages>Hokan hypothesis.
Yuchi language>Yuchi|4| Moribund| United States| Spoken in Oklahoma, but formerly spoken in eastern Tennessee. A connection to the Siouan languages have been proposed.
Zuni language>Zuni|9,620| Vulnerable| United StatesZuni Pueblo, New Mexico>Zuni Pueblo in northwestern New Mexico. Links to Penutian languages and Keres language>Keres have been proposed.

South America{| class"wikitable sortable" CELLPADDING"5" RULES"ALL"

! Language! Speakers! Status! Countries! Comments
Aikanã language>Aikanã|200| Endangered| BrazilAmazon rainforest>Amazon of eastern Rondônia. Arawakan has been suggested.
Andoque language>Andoque|370| Endangered|Colombia, PeruJapurá River. Extinct in Peru. Possibly Witotoan languages>Witotoan.
Betoi language>Betoi|| Extinct|VenezuelaApure River basin near the Colombian border until the 18th century. Paezan languages>Paezan has been suggested.
Camsá language>Camsá|4,000| Endangered| Colombia| Spoken in Sibundoy in the Putumayo Department. Also known as Kamsa, Coche, Sibundoy, Kamentxa, Kamse, or Camëntsëá.
Candoshi-Shapra language>Candoshi-Shapra|1,100| Endangered| PeruDepartment of Loreto>Loreto. Could be related to the extinct and poorly-attested Chirino language.
Canichana language>Canichana|| Extinct| BoliviaLlanos de Moxos region of Beni Department until around 2000. A connection with the extinct Tequiraca language>Tequiraca (Auishiri) has been proposed.
Cayuvava language>Cayuvava|4| Moribund| BoliviaAmazon rainforest>Amazon west of Mamore River, north of Santa Ana del Yacuma in the Beni Department.
Chimane language>Chimane|5,300|Vulnerable| BoliviaBeni Department. Also spelled Tsimané. Sometimes split into multiple languages in a Moséten family. Linked to the Chonan languages in a Moseten–Chonan languages>Moseten-Chonan hypothesis.
Chiquitano language>Chiquitano|5,900|Endangered| Bolivia, BrazilMato Grosso state. Formerly regarded as a member of the Macro-Jê languages>Macro-Jê family, but this claim was unsubstantiated.
Cofán language>Cofán|2,400| Endangered| Colombia, EcuadorSucumbíos Province and southern Putumayo Department. Also called A'ingae. Sometimes classified as Chibchan languages>Chibchan, but the similarities appear to be due to borrowings. Seriously endangered in Colombia.
Fulniô language>Fulniô|1,000|Moribund| BrazilParaíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, and the northern part of Bahia. Divided into two dialects, Fulniô and Yatê. Sometimes classified as a Macro-Jê languages>Macro-Jê language, but not much evidence to support this.
Guató language>Guató|6|Moribund| BrazilMato Grosso near the Bolivian border. Previously classified as Macro-Jê languages>Macro-Jê, but no evidence was found to support this.
Itonama language>Itonama|5| Moribund| BoliviaBeni Department. Paezan languages>Paezan has been suggested.
Kanoê language>Kanoê|5| Moribund| BrazilRondônia. Also known as Kapishana. Part of a Macro-Paesan languages>Macro-Paesan proposal.
Kunza language>Kunza|| Extinct| ChileSalar de Atacama until the 1950s. Also known as Atacameño. Part of a Macro-Paesan languages>Macro-Paesan proposal.
Kwaza language>Kwaza|54|Moribund|Brazil|Spoken in eastern Rondônia. Connections have been proposed with Aikanã and Kanoê.
Leco language>Leco|20| Moribund| Bolivia| Spoken in the Andes east of Lake Titicaca.
Mapuche language>Mapuche|260,000| Vulnerable| Chile, ArgentinaChiloé Archipelago. Also known as Mapudungun, Araucano or Araucanian. Considered a family of 2 languages by Ethnologue. Variously part of Andean languages>Andean, Macro-Panoan languages, or Mataco–Guaicuru languages>Mataco–Guaicuru proposals. Sometimes Huilliche language is treated as a separate language, reclassifying Mapuche into an Araucanian languages>Araucanian family.
Munichi language>Munichi||Extinct| Peru|Spoken in the southern part of Loreto Region until the late 1990s. Possibly related to Arawakan languages
Movima language>Movima|1,400| Vulnerable| Bolivia| Spoken in the Llanos de Moxos, in the north of Beni Department.
Oti language>Oti|| Extinct| BrazilSão Paulo until the early 1900s. Macro-Jê languages>Macro-Jê has been suggested.
Páez language>Páez|60,000| Vulnerable| ColombiaCauca Department. Several proposed relationships in the Paezan languages>Paezan hypothesis but nothing conclusive.
Puelche language>Puelche||Extinct| Argentina, ChileHet language>Het. Included in a proposed Macro-Jibaro family.
Tequiraca language>Tequiraca||Extinct| PeruDepartment of Loreto>Loreto until the 1950s. Also known as Auishiri. A connection with Canichana has been proposed.
Trumai language>Trumai|51| Moribund| Brazil| Settled on the upper Xingu River. Currently reside in the Xingu National Park in the northern part of Mato Grosso.
Urarina language>Urarina|3,000| Vulnerable| PeruLoreto Region. Part of the Macro-Jibaro languages>Macro-Jibaro proposal.
Waorani language>Waorani|2,000| Vulnerable| Ecuador, PeruNapo River>Napo and Curaray rivers. Could be spoken by several uncontacted groups.
Warao language>Warao|28,000| Endangered| Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, Trinidad and TobagoOrinoco Delta. Sometimes linked to Paezan languages>Paezan.
Yaghan language>Yaghan|1| Moribund| Chile| Spoken in far-southern Tierra del Fuego. Also called Yámana. Last native speaker is Cristina Calderón, who is 90 years old.
Yaruro language>Yaruro|7,900|Vibrant| VenezuelaOrinoco, Cinaruco River>Cinaruco, Meta River, and Apure River>Apure rivers. Linked to the extinct Esmeralda language.
Yuracaré language>Yuracaré|2,700| Endangered| BoliviaCochabamba Department>Cochabamba and Beni Department Departments. Connections to Mosetenan, Pano–Tacanan, Arawakan, and Chonan languages>Chonan have been suggested.

See also




  • Campbell, Lyle, ed. 2017. Language Isolates. Routledge.
  • Campbell, Lyle. (1997). American Indian languages: The Historical Linguistics of Native America. New York: Oxford University Press. {{ISBN |0-19-509427-1}}.
  • Goddard, Ives (Ed.). (1996). Languages. Handbook of North American Indians (W. C. Sturtevant, General Ed.) (Vol. 17). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. {{ISBN |0-16-048774-9}}.
  • Goddard, Ives. (1999). Native Languages and Language Families of North America (rev. and enlarged ed. with additions and corrections). [Map]. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press (Smithsonian Institution). (Updated version of the map in Goddard 1996). {{ISBN |0-8032-9271-6}}.
  • Grimes, Barbara F. (Ed.). (2000). Ethnologue: Languages of the world, (14th ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. {{ISBN |1-55671-106-9}}. (Online edition:weblink
  • Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. {{ISBN |0-521-23228-7}} (hbk); {{ISBN |0-521-29875-X}}.
  • Sturtevant, William C. (Ed.). (1978–present). Handbook of North American Indians (Vol. 1–20). Washington, D. C.: Smithsonian Institution. (Vols. 1–3, 16, 18–20 not yet published).

External links

  • weblink" title="">Ethnologue's list of language isolates

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