Language Fact: The Newest Language in the World (Light Walpiri)

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newest language in the world

Light Walpiri: Newest Language in the World

In June 2013, Light Walpiri was officially announced to be the newest language in the world. Furthermore, it is the language of  the desert community of Lajamanu, on the edge of the Tanami Desert in Australia. University of Michigan linguistics professor Carmel O’Shannessy discovered the language when she was working in a school in the area.

The inhabitants of the community speak traditional strong Walpiri, an endangered Australian language with about 4,000 speakers. However, the younger generation speaks a mix language: that of Walpiri, Kriol and English.


As O’Shannessy studied this mixed language, she realized that the “switching” from one language to the other happens in every sentence.  In essence, the younger generation moves from switching between English – Kriol – Walpiri to speaking the distinct pattern of Light Walpiri as their primary language.

Light Walipiri follows English and Kriol verb structures, but takes its noun structure from Walpiri. What’s most interesting is that there are also new structures that originate from Walpiri, English and Kriol but are not exactly the same as the original patterns of these languages.

Light Walpiri is not a pidgin. Pidgins and mixed languages have no native speakers.

Here’s more information on Light Walipri:



For more information on the oldest and newest language in the world, and also for help on interpretation and translation, call Language Direct today.

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