An article by Sam Roberts in today’s NY Times describes some of the many obscure languages spoken in New York City, and the efforts to document them before they disappear. I knew there were a lot of languages spoken in the city, but I had no idea of the variety: the article mentions Vlashki (“a variant of Istro-Romanian”), Garifuna (an Arawakan language now “virtually as common in the Bronx and in Brooklyn as in Honduras and Belize”), Mamuju, Ormuri (“believed to be spoken by a small number of people in Pakistan and Afghanistan”), Massalit (from Darfur)…
In addition to dozens of Native American languages, vulnerable foreign languages that researchers say are spoken in New York include Aramaic, Chaldic and Mandaic from the Semitic family; Bukhari (a Bukharian Jewish language, which has more speakers in Queens than in Uzbekistan or Tajikistan), Chamorro (from the Mariana Islands), Irish Gaelic, Kashubian (from Poland), indigenous Mexican languages, Pennsylvania Dutch, Rhaeto-Romanic (spoken in Switzerland) and Romany (from the Balkans) and Yiddish.
There are some interesting personal stories, and an amazing coincidence. Thanks, Bonnie!
Update. There’s a great video (four and a half minutes) associated with the story in which you can hear several of the languages spoken. Thanks, Gary!