Two linguists have discovered a language new to science, spoken by only about 1,000 people in the foothills of the Himalayas, the LA Times reports. Koro, as it has been named, was found among residents in a remote area of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. Instead of being a dialect of the dominant local language as long thought, it contains unique grammatical and syntactical features and thus could provide insights into the mechanics of language itself.
Such languages "construe reality in very different ways," said one of the linguists. "They uniquely code knowledge of the natural world in ways that cannot be translated into a major language." Yet Koro, like other indigenous languages around the world, is disappearing as the younger generation of villagers, educated in Hindi and English, forget their mother tongue, notes the Wall Street Journal. "Even though this is new to science, this language is on the way out," said the second linguist. "Young people are not speaking it in the villages."