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Last of Nepal’s Kusunda speakers mourns dying language

By Deepak Adhikari KATHMANDU (AFP): As Gyani Maiya Sen nears the end of her life she worries that her final words may be the last ever spoken in her mysterious mother tongue.
The 76-year-old, part of a vanishing tribe in remote western Nepal, is the only surviving speaker of Kusunda, a language of unknown origins and unique sentence structures that has long baffled experts.
“There’s no one else with whom I can speak in my language. I used to speak with my mother but since her death in 1985, I am left alone,” she told AFP by telephone.
Yet the frail, gnarled tribeswoman is the focus of renewed interest among linguists across the world who are trying to ensure her language survives in some form after she has gone.
Sen’s Kusunda tribe, now just 100 members strong, were once a nomadic people but she has found herself living out her twilight years in a concrete bungalow built by local authorities in Dang district, western Nepal.
“How can I forget the language I grew up learning? I used to speak it when I was a child. Even now, I wish I could talk to someone who understands my language,” Sen said in Nepali.
Nepal, wedged between China and India, is home to more than 100 ethnic groups speaking as many languages and linguists say at least 10 h

Published Date: Sunday, November 11th, 2012 | 10:20 AM

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