So, it’s Monday again and the letter I in the A to Z of Endangered Languages challenge stands for Irántxe.


Irántxe is a language spoken in Brazil by, according to Ethnologue, around 40 people. It is considered to be a language isolate, though it is spoken by people from two different tribes – the Irántxe and the Myky – to differing degrees.

According to a report issued by SIL International, the Irántxe people are almost all monolingual in Portuguese and have mostly assimilated to Brazilian culture in areas such as housing, clothing, education, etc. The Myky, who were not first contacted by outsiders until 1971, have kept a much tighter grip on their language and customs – but the researchers found that in fact, the Irántxe people admired this about the Myky, while the Myky people think it will be more beneficial to them to learn Brazilian Portuguese instead.

What this means, the report says, is that there are really too few Irántxe people who speak the language for the language to survive amongst them; and the Myky people have too little interest in the language for it to survive amongst them without serious intervention and shifting of attitudes.

Sources/Further Reading

Ethnologue: Irántxe
Linguamón: Irántxe
Wikipedia: Irántxe language
SIL International: Irántxe
Anonby, Stan: A Report on the Irantxe and Myky
Endangered Languages Project: Irantxe
OLAC resources in and about the Irántxe language

Verbix: Where on earth do they speak Irántxe?

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