Rusenu language

Rusenu language

Infobox Language
extinct=Unknown, likely 20th century
region=eastern East Timor
fam1=Trans-New Guinea (TNG)
fam2=West TNG linkage
fam3=East Timor

Rusenu is a recently discovered, essentially extinct Papuan language formerly spoken in Eastern East Timor.

Rusenu was discovered quite accidentally. When the Dutch/Timorese linguist Aone van Engelenhoven, who had been in East Timor for a few years researching the Makuvu language, was bound to leave for the Netherlands, he was informed about the existence of another language called Rusenu, with only one elderly woman "who had some knowledge of it". He gave his tape recorder to this informant, who subsequently interrogated the women and her son. She remembered a nursery rhyme, which she was unable to interpret (as was her entire tribe). Her son could count to ten in the language. After Van Engelenhoven analysed and transcribed the recording, he concluded that Rusenu, "albeit remotely related to Fataluku, is a separate language".

Van Engelenhoven claims this dicovery triggered rumours about other languages that have survived to date as cants, and hopes to discover some more unknown East Timorese languages in the near future.


* nl Citations in the article have been literally translated from this source.

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  • Languages of East Timor — The lingua franca and national language of East Timor is Tetum, an Austronesian language influenced by Portuguese, with which it has equal status as an official language. Fataluku, a Papuan language widely used in the eastern part of the country… …   Wikipedia