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14.5.12

Rare: The complicated Kusunda language could die out because only Gyani Maiya Sen, 75, pictured, can speak it
A COMPLEX LANGUAGE WHICH IS COMPLETELY UNIQUE 
The Kusunda language has baffled linguists for many years.  It has been thought to be on the verge of extinction for decades.  Over the years, linguists have gleaned information from the memories of former speakers but it has still left them confused.  It is classed as a language isolate, which means it has no relationship with any other languages.  However, it has often been classified as Tibeto-Burman.  Gyani Maiya Sen is now officially the only person alive who can speak the language fluently.  No children are learning the language and all Kusunda speakers have married outside their ethnicity.  It is believed that Kusunda is a remnant of languages spoken in northern India before the influx of Indo-Iranian-speaking people and Tibeto-Burman.

A complicated language could die out because only one elderly woman can speak it.  Gyani Maiya Sen, 75, is fluent in Kusunda, a language which hails from western Nepal.  However,  Ms Sen is the only person of the 100-strong Kusunda tribe who can speak it.  She is now at the centre of a campaign by linguists who are keen to preserve the unique language.

 According to the Daily Mirror, Ms Sen, who also speaks Nepali and crushes stones for a living, said: 'I feel very sad for not being able to speak with people from my own community.  'They neither understand nor speak the Kusunda language – it will die with me.'  The mysterious language is from unknown origins and has mysterious sentence structures.

So far researchers have identified three vowels and 15 consonants in the language.  But experts are keen for future generations of the tribe to start using it - otherwise it will become extinct.  Madhav Prasad Pokharel, from the Tribhuvan University in Nepal, said: 'If the Kusunda language vanishes, a unique part of our human heritage will be lost forever.'  Campaigners now want the Nepalese government to bring in a policy which will protect the language.

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