Ku|khaasi and !ora
This page contains links to recordings of two African languages that existed in the 1930's but are no longer spoken. We are fortunate that they were recorded or we might not
even know they existed. They are part of a collection of recordings of extinct languages on a CD produced by Prof.
Anthony Traill, Professorial Research Fellow in the Linguistics Department of the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
This project was featured on NPR's "Lost & Found Sound". Click here to hear the broadcast in
RealAudio containing an interview with yourDictionary's Dr. Bonnie Sands.
Ku|khaasi was a South African Khoisan language containing clicks, represented in the
International Phonetic Alphabet as [!] or [|] (there are different kinds of clicks). It was spoken in South Africa as late as 1936. Ku|khaasi is no longer spoken or sung to
infants. This is a recording made in Johannesburg that year. It contains the first part of a Ku|khaasi lullaby, as sung and spoken by a woman named
Kabara (about 1 megabyte). You can hear the gurgles of her baby, Matabab, in the background.
The second clip is the opening of a now very poignant speech in !ora, or Koranna, is another now extinct South
African Khoisan language with clicks. This clip contains a message from
Mukalap to the delegates at the Third International Congress of Phonetic Sciences om Ghent, Belgium (also about a megabyte long). It was recorded in 1938.
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