彭蒙惠英语：20110211 MP3在线课程 Distinct Language Discovered
Distinct Language Discovered
by Amina Khan / (c) 2010, Los Angeles Times. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.
A previously unknown language has been uncovered in the far reaches of northeastern India
Koro, a tongue brand new to the scientific world that is spoken by just 800 to 1,200 people,could soon face extinction as younger speakers abandon it for more widely used languages such as Hindi or English.
What is Koro?
Koro is unlike any language in the various branches of the Tibeto-Burman family, a collection of 400 related languages used by peoples across Asia, according to the two National Geographic fellows who announced the discovery.
The researchers, linguists K. David Harrison of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and Gregory D.S. Anderson, director of the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages in Oregon, said they are not sure yet how old Koro is or how it developed. But they believe it could yield a wealth of knowledge about the way humans develop and use language.
Until now, the speakers of Koro had remained invisible to outside observers because their bright red garments, the rice beer they made and other details of their lives seemed no different from the speakers of Aka, the socially dominant language in the region, Harrison said.
"There's a sort of cultural invisibility─they're culturally identical in what they wear, what they eat, the houses they live in ... they just happen to have a different word for everything," Harrison said.
"I expect that there are many such hidden languages around the world," said Paul Lewis, editor of the 16th edition of Ethnologue: Languages of the World. "The lesser-known languages quite often are overlooked and understudied."