List of last known speakers of languages

Any language is determined to be an extinct language when the last native or fluent speaker of that language dies.

Out of the nearly 7,000 living languages, there are some 500 classified as nearly extinct because "only a few elderly speakers are still living".[1]

Last known speakers of languages

Last known speakers of languages
Name Born Died Language Taxonomy Notes
Marchant, ChestenChesten Marchant unknown 1676 Cornish (last monoglot speaker) Indo-European Celtic Insular Celtic Brittonic [notes 1]
McMurray, MargaretMargaret McMurray unknown 1760 Galwegian dialect, Scottish Gaelic Indo-European Celtic Insular Celtic Goidelic Scottish Gaelic
Pentreath, DollyDolly Pentreath unknown 1777 Cornish (traditionally known as the last fluent native speaker; disputed)[2] Indo-European Celtic Insular Celtic Brittonic [notes 2]
Shanawdithit c.1801 1829 Beothuk unclassified
Sutherland, WalterWalter Sutherland unknown c.1850 Norn Indo-European Germanic North Germanic West Scandinavian
Juana Maria unknown 1853 Nicoleño Uto-Aztecan Northern Takic (unclassified beyond the Takic family)
Nikonha c.1765 1871 Tutelo Siouan Western Siouan Ohio Valley Siouan Virginia Siouan [notes 3]
Trugernanner c.1812 1876 an unidentified Tasmanian language unknown; there were multiple language families in Tasmania [notes 4]
Davey, JohnJohn Davey 1812 1891 Cornish (some knowledge) Indo-European Celtic Insular Celtic Brittonic [notes 5]
Udaina, TuoneTuone Udaina 1823 1898 Dalmatian Indo-European Italic Romance Italo-Dalmatian
Smith, Fanny CochraneFanny Cochrane Smith 1834 1905 an unidentified Tasmanian language unknown; there were multiple language families in Tasmania [notes 6]
Fielding, FideliaFidelia Fielding 1827 1908 Mohegan-Pequot Algic Algonquian Eastern Algonquian
Toney, SantuSantu Toney 1835 c.1910 Beothuk (some knowledge) unclassified [notes 7]
Mann, JohnJohn Mann 1834 c.1914 Cornish (extent of proficiency unclear) Indo-European Celtic Insular Celtic Brittonic [notes 8]
Ishi c.1860 1916 Yana language isolate [notes 9]
Noble, SallySally Noble unknown 1922 Chimariko language isolate
Solorsano, AscencionAscencion Solorsano unknown 1930 Mutsun Yok-Utian Utian Ohlone/Costanoan Southern [5]
Johnson, FrancesFrances Johnson unknown 1934 Takelma language isolate
Trruúlmani unknown 1934 Puelche Chon
Watt Sam and Nancy Raven unknown late 1930s Natchez language isolate
Meadows, IsabelIsabel Meadows 1846 1939 Rumsen Yok-Utian Utian Ohlone/Costanoan Southern
Decloux, DelphineDelphine Decloux 1871 1940 Chitimacha language isolate
Youchigant, SesostrieSesostrie Youchigant unknown 1940s Tunica language isolate
Nalig, JamesJames Nalig c.1870s 1954 Utaha Austronesian Malayo-Polynesian Southern Oceanic Oceanic [6]
Annie O'Hanlon unknown 1960 Leinster dialect, Irish Indo-European Celtic Insular Celtic Goidelic Irish
Yee, MaryMary Yee 1897 1965 Barbareño Chumashan Southern Central [notes 10]
Wood, ManfriManfri Wood unknown 1968 Welsh Romani Indo-European Romani Northern Romani [7]
Maddrell, NedNed Maddrell 1877 1974 Manx Indo-European Celtic Insular Celtic Goidelic [notes 11]
Loij, ÁngelaÁngela Loij c.1900 1974 Selk’nam[notes 12] Chon
Lunel, ArmandArmand Lunel 1892 1977 Shuadit (Jewish dialect of Occitan) Indo-European Italic Romance Western Ibero-Romance Occitan
Palmer, AlfAlf Palmer c.1891 1981 Warrungu Pama-Nyungan Maric
Séamus Bhriain Mac Amhlaig unknown 1983 Antrim dialect, Irish Indo-European Celtic Insular Celtic Goidelic Irish
Butler, JackJack Butler 1901 1986 Jiwarli dialect, Mantharta Pama-Nyungan KanyaraMantharta Mantharta
Nolasquez, RoscindaRoscinda Nolasquez 1892 1987 Cupeño Uto-Aztecan Northern Takic Cupan Cahuilla-Cupeño
Plotnikova, KlavdiyaKlavdiya Plotnikova c.1895 1989 Kamassian Uralic Samoyedic Core Samoyedic Kamas–Selkup
Munro, MorndiMorndi Munro unknown 1990s Unggumi dialect, Worrorra Worrorran Western Worrorra
Bernat, FidelaFidela Bernat 1898 1991 Roncalese (Erronkarriko) dialect, Basque Basque is a language isolate
Esenç, TevfikTevfik Esenç 1904 1992 Ubykh Northwest Caucasian
Asai, TakeTake Asai c.1901 1994 Sakhalin Ainu Ainu
Paterson, AlgyAlgy Paterson unknown 1995 Martuthunira Pama-Nyungan Ngayarta
Dailey, Truman WashingtonTruman Washington Dailey 1898 1996 Otoe-Missouria dialect, Chiwere Siouan Western Siouan Mississippi Valley Chiwere–Winnebago Chiwere
Vyie unknown 1997 Sirenik Eskimo Eskimo-Aleut Eskimo Yupik?
Charles, CarmelCarmel Charles 1912 1999 Nyulnyul Nyulnyulan Western
Neidjie, Big BillBig Bill Neidjie c.1920 2002 Gaagudju Arnhem
Thompson, Edward LeonardEdward Leonard Thompson 1904 2002 Unami Lenape AlgonquianEastern Algonquian [notes 13]
Jones, Marie SmithMarie Smith Jones 1918 2008 Eyak Na-Dené Athabascan-Eyak
Ms. Boro unknown 2009 Aka-Kora Great Andamanese Northern
Rozario, WilliamWilliam Rozario unknown 2010 Cochin Indo-Portuguese creole Portuguese Creole Indo-Portuguese Creoles
Pan Jin-yu 1914 2010 Pazeh Austronesian Northwest Formosan
Boa Sr. c.1925 2010 Aka-Bo Great Andamanese Northern
Hogg, BobbyBobby Hogg 1920 2012 Cromarty fisher dialect, Scots Indo-European Germanic West Germanic Anglo-Frisian Anglic
Kristiņa, GrizeldaGrizelda Kristiņa 1910 2013 Livonian Uralic Finnic [notes 14]
Sampson, HazelHazel Sampson 1911 2014 Klallam North Straits Salishan Languages Salishan Languages [notes 15]
McLemore, DorisDoris McLemore 1927 2016 Wichita Caddoan Northern [8]
Calderón, CristinaCristina Calderón May 24, 1928 living Yaghan language isolate
Benson, EdwinEdwin Benson 1931 living Mandan Siouan Western Siouan
Mungulda, CharlieCharlie Mungulda unknown living Amurdag Iwaidjan [9]
Parker, VerdenaVerdena Parker unknown living Hupa Na-Dené Athabaskan-Eyak Athabaskan Pacific Coast Athabaskan [10][11][notes 16]
Sen, Gyani MaiyiGyani Maiyi Sen c.1937 living Kusunda language isolate [12] [notes 17]
Abegaz c. 1920 after 2001 Mesmes West Gurage - Ethiopian Semitic language [13] [14]
Wilcox, MarieMarie Wilcox 1933 living Wukchumni Yok-Utian Yokutsan General Yokuts Nim Tule-Kaweah [15]
George, TommyTommy George 1928 2016 Awu Laya Pama–Nyungan Paman Thaypan Kuku-Thaypan Awu Laya [16]

See also


  1. Believed to have been the last monoglot Cornish speaker, as opposed to other speakers such as Dolly Pentreath who could also speak English. See Last speaker of the Cornish language.
  2. Possibly the last fluent native speaker of the Cornish language, was monoglot until her twenties. See Last speaker of the Cornish language.
  3. Last full-blooded speaker, though partial knowledge of this language continued among mixed Cayuga-Tutelo descendants for some time.
  4. Considered to be the last full-blood speaker of a Tasmanian language;[3] however, Fanny Cochrane Smith, who spoke one of the Tasmanian languages, outlived her.
  5. A Cornish farmer who was one of the last people with some traditional knowledge of the Cornish language.[4] See Last speaker of the Cornish language.
  6. Considered to be the last fluent speaker of a Tasmanian language.
  7. Recorded a song in Beothuk in 1910.
  8. The last attested native Cornish language speaker, part of a group of children who conversed in Cornish, interviewed in 1914 at the age of 80.[2] See Last speaker of the Cornish language.
  9. Last member of the Yahi, the last surviving group of the Yana people who spoke Yana
  10. Last attested speaker of a Chumashan language
  11. Last surviving native speaker; the language has since been revived.
  12. The last full-blooded Selknam Indian, but some have suggested certain people remained fluent in the languages until the 1980s.
  13. Brother of Lenape traditionalist and language preservation activist Nora Thompson Dean
  14. Last surviving native speaker; some children still learn it as a second language.
  15. Last surviving native speaker; it is being taught as a second language on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.
  16. Last fluent speaker; several non-fluent speakers remain
  17. Last fluent native speaker; several non-fluent speakers remain


  1. Endangered languages Ethnologue: Languages of the World. (Archived 6 July 2012 at WebCite)
  2. 1 2 "Legend of Dolly Pentreath outlived her native tongue". This is Cornwall. 2011-08-04. Retrieved 2013-11-03.
  3. Field linguistics: a beginner's guide.
  4. De Bruxelles, Simon (21 May 2008). "After centuries, Cornish agree how to speak their language". The Times.
  5. Archived 4 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. "What happened to Erromango's languages?" by Terry Crowley, The Journal of the Polynesian Society, 106:33-64, No. 1 (1997)
  7. Kenrick, Donald (2010). The A to Z of the Gypsies (Romanies). Toronto: Scarecrow Press. p. 289. ISBN 9780810875616.
  8. "The Last Living Speaker of Wichita : NPR" (Audio interview).
  9. "Scientists Race Around World to Save Dying Languages". Fox News. Associated Press. 20 September 2007. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
  10. Evans, Nicholas (2010). Dying words: endangered languages and what they have to tell us. Chichester, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 978-0-631-23305-3.
  11. Newberry, Daniel. "Rescuing Languages From Extinction: The Experience of the Hoopa Valley, Karuk, and Yurok Tribes". Jefferson Public Radio. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  12. "Obscure language isolate will die with this woman". The Hot Word - Hot & Trending Words Daily Blog at 2012-06-03. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  13. Ahland, Michael Bryan. (2010). Language death in Mesmes. Dallas: SIL International and the University of Texas at Arlington.
  14. Bustorf, Dirk. (2007). "Mäsmäs”, in: Siegbert Uhlig (ed.): Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, vol. 3: D-Ha, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, p. 838-39.
  16. "Language lost with the passing of 'great elder' Tommy George". The Australian. 2016-08-13. Retrieved 2016-12-02.
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