A team of academics from Oxford University have been sent to a remote area of Indonesia in order to save a language spoken by only three people. The trio are the last people to speak Dusner, an ancient language spoken in a remote fishing village deep in the jungles of Papua, an Indonesian island.
The scientists were nearly too late as recent earthquakes and flooding nearly finished off the community – which still uses the language in ceremonies like marriage – for good.
Researchers from university’s Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics uncovered the language, and Dr Suriel Mofu set off for Indonesia in October to record and document the language.
But days after he left, flooding hit Indonesia’s easternmost Papua province and the Oxford team could not determine whether or not the Dusner speakers – two woman aged 60, and a man in his 70s – had survived.
Now Dr Mofu has made contact with the Dusner speakers and the 14-month project to record the vocabulary and grammar of the speakers.
Professor Mary Dalrymple, the project’s leader, said: “The flood in Indonesia has been a real tragedy for the inhabitants of this wonderful island and it’s been a nervous few months waiting to hear whether or not our speakers survived.
There is great fear in the community that the people will lose the language when these speakers die.
Since Dusner has never been written, traditional stories and experiences have been passed from one generation to another orally.
Read more: The Telegraph
Thanks to @hyperlingo on Twitter