spurious language



Spurious languages are
language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vocabulary. Languages are the primary means by which humans communicate, and may be conveyed through a variety of met ...
s that have been reported as existing in reputable works, while other research has reported that the language in question did not exist. Some spurious languages have been proven to not exist. Others have very little evidence supporting their existence, and have been dismissed in later scholarship. Others still are of uncertain existence due to limited research. Below is a sampling of languages that have been claimed to exist in reputable sources but have subsequently been disproved or challenged. In some cases a purported language is tracked down and turns out to be another, known language. This is common when language varieties are named after places or ethnicities. Some alleged languages turn out to be hoaxes, such as the Kukurá language of Brazil or the
Taensa language The Taensa language was an attempt at creating a fake Natchez language-variant, supposedly spoken by the Taensa people originally of northeastern Louisiana, and later with historical importance in Alabama. The language is was created by two you ...
of Louisiana. Others are honest errors that persist in the literature despite being corrected by the original authors; an example of this is ', the name given in 1892 to two Colonial word lists, one of Tlingit and one of a Salishan language, that were mistakenly listed as Patagonian. The error was corrected three times that year, but nonetheless "Hongote" was still listed as a Patagonian language a century later in Greenberg (1987). In the case of
New Guinea New Guinea (; Hiri Motu: ''Niu Gini''; id, Papua, or , historically ) is the List of islands by area, world's second-largest island with an area of . Located in Oceania in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, the island is separated from Mainlan ...
, one of the most linguistically diverse areas on Earth, some spurious languages are simply the names of language surveys that the data was published under. Examples are '', Kia, , '', listed as Indo-Pacific languages in Ruhlen 1987; these are actually rivers that gave their names to language surveys in the Greater Awyu languages and Ok languages of New Guinea.

Dubious languages

Dubious languages are those whose existence is uncertain. They include: * Oropom (
Uganda }), is a landlocked country in East Africa. The country is bordered to the east by Kenya, to the north by South Sudan, to the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to the south-west by Rwanda, and to the south by Tanzania. The souther ...
) * Nemadi (
Mauritania Mauritania (; ar, موريتانيا, ', french: Mauritanie; Berber languages, Berber: ''Agawej'' or ''Cengit''; Pulaar language, Pulaar: ''Moritani''; Wolof language, Wolof: ''Gànnaar''; Soninke language, Soninke:), officially the Islamic ...
) * Rer Bare (
Ethiopia Ethiopia, , om, Itiyoophiyaa, so, Itoobiya, ti, ኢትዮጵያ, Ítiyop'iya, aa, Itiyoppiya officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea to the ...
) – extinct, if it ever existed * Tapeba (
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, ...
) [] – a recently created indigenous ethnicity, not a language * Ladakhi Sign Language – no community to use it * Dek language, Dek (Cameroon)

Spurious according to ''Glottolog''

Glottolog ''Glottolog'' is a bibliographic database of the world's lesser-known languages, developed and maintained first at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany (between 2015 and 2020 at the Max Planck Institute for ...
'', maintained at the
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (german: Max-Planck-Institut für evolutionäre Anthropologie, shortened to MPI EVA) is a research institute based in Leipzig, Germany, that was founded in 1997. It is part of the Max-Planc ...
in Leipzig, classifies several languages, some with
ISO 639 ISO 639 is a set of standards by the International Organization for Standardization that is concerned with representation of names for languages and language groups. It was also the name of the original standard, approved in 1967 (as ''ISO 63 ...
codes, as spurious/unattested. These include: *
Parsi Parsis () or Parsees are an ethnoreligious group of the Indian subcontinent adhering to Zoroastrianism. They are descended from Persians who migrated to Medieval India during and after the Muslim conquest of Persia, Arab conquest of Iran (pa ...
[] (a dialect of Gujarati) and -Dari [] (Zoroastrian Dari language, Zoroastrian Dari) – an ethnicity, not a language * Adabe language, Adabe [] – a dialect of Wetarese, taken for a Papuan language * – the people spoke
Old Tupi Old Tupi, Ancient Tupi or Classical Tupi (also spelled as Tupí) is an extinct Tupian languages, Tupian language which was spoken by the aboriginal Tupi people of Brazil, mostly those who inhabited coastal regions in South Brazil, South and Sou ...
* – a word list of mislabeled ǀXam mixed with other !Ui languages *
Chamar Chamar is a Dalit community classified as a Scheduled Caste under modern India's Reservation in India, system of affirmative action. Historically subject to untouchability, they were traditionally outside the Hindu ritual ranking system of cas ...
i [], a caste, not a language * Judeo-Berber language, Judeo-Berber [] – According to Glottolog, Jewish Berbers speak no differently than Muslim BerbersHammarström (2015) Ethnologue 16/17/18th editions: a comprehensive review: online appendices However, there are claims, listed in the linked article, that this is not true. * Pisabo [] – reported to be mutually intelligible with Matsés language, Matsés, so perhaps not a distinct language Also some Aeta ethnic names with no cultural memory of an extinct language:Lobel, Jason William. 2013
''Philippine and North Bornean languages: issues in description, subgrouping, and reconstruction''
Ph.D. dissertation. Manoa: University of Hawai'i at Manoa.
* ys* yy* yg Other ISO codes that Glottolog regards as spurious, because they are not a distinct language, are polyphyletic (not a single language), or have not been shown to exist, include: * Guajajara ub– mutually-intelligible with Tenetehara qb*
Norra NORRA or Norra may refer to: * Nordic Regional Airlines Nordic Regional Airlines Oy (abbreviated as Norra and often stylised as N°RRA, previously ''Flybe Nordic'') is a Finland, Finnish regional airline based on the grounds of Helsinki Airport. ...
rr* South Ucayali Ashéninka py* Moabite bm
Ammonite Ammonoids are a group of extinct marine mollusc animals in the subclass Ammonoidea of the class (biology), class Cephalopoda. These molluscs, commonly referred to as ammonites, are more closely related to living coleoids (i.e., octopuses, squid ...
gg and Edomite dm* Syenara hzand Shempire eb* ca– presumed to be from the Cauca Valley, but no such language is known, unless it is the undemonstrated Quimbaya * gi(an ambiguous ethnic term; all varieties already covered by ISO) * ym– purportedly the original language of the Kpatili people, who now speak Gbayi, but any such language is unattested * az– all likely candidates in the area already have ISO codes Ir rr Skagit ka Snohomish no Ahirani hr Pokangá ok Chetco tc Arakwal kw Anasi po Yarí* ri Yola ol Seru* zd Gowli ok Mina (India) yi Degaru* gu Bubia bx Gbati-ri ti Tetete* eb Kannada Kurumba fi Vatrata* lr Kofa* so Old Turkish tk Tingui-Boto* gv Imeraguen me Yauma ax Rufiji ui Ngong nx Dombe ov Subi* sj Mawayana* zx
Kwak Kwak or KWAK may refer to: *Kwak (surname), a Korean surname (郭, 霍) *KWAK (AM), a radio station (1240 AM) licensed to serve Stuttgart, Arkansas, United States *KWAK-FM, a radio station (105.5 FM), licensed to serve Stuttgart, Arkansas *KWAK-LP, ...
wq Potiguára* og Coxima* ox Chipiajes* be Cagua* bh Kakauhua(*) bf Yangho* nh
Takpa The Takpa is a linguistic northern sub-group of the Monpa people, while the southern sub-group is identified as the Tshangla. Monpas of the Takpa group are found in Tawang District, Tawang and Dirang of Arunachal Pradesh, Cuona of Tibet as well as ...
* kk N'Ko(*) qo Sara Dunjo oj Putoh ut Bainouk-Samik cb Kamba (Brazil)* ba Bikaru-Bragge* ic Baga Binari(*) cg Baga Sobané(*) sv Ontenu* nt Baga Kaloum(*) qf Munda nx Aduge* du Khalaj** jf Buso* so
Uokha Uokha lies on the latitude 7 07’N and longitude 6 04’E in a deciduous derived rainforest zone of Edo State. The climate is sub humid tropical with an average annual rainfall of about 1967mm. Uokha is a town in Owan East, a local government ...
* ok
Ihievbe Ihievbe (also spelled Sebe or Isebe) is a town in Owan East local government area of Edo State Edo, commonly known as Edo State, is a States of Nigeria, state located in the South South, South-South Geopolitical zones of Nigeria, geopolitical zo ...
* hi Coyaima* oy Natagaimas* ts Odut* da Chilean Quechua qu Quetzaltepec Mixe xm Kang yp Thu Lao yl Pu Ko* uk Gey(*) uv Kakihum* xe Bonjo* ok Katukína* av Lui(*) ba Lama (Myanmar)(*) ay Inpui Naga* kf Puimei Naga* pu Purum(*) ub Welaung* eu Lumba-Yakkha* uu Phangduwali hw/ Lambichhong* mh Lingkhim(*) ii Northwestern Tamang(*) mk Southwestern Tamang sf Kayort* yv Loarki rk Con no Gengle eg Kuanhua* nh Yarsun rs Kabixí* bx Vasekela Bushman aj Maligo wj Pao pa Bhalay hx/ Gowlan* oj Balau* lg Kuku-Mangk mq Buya* yy
Aramanik The Asa (Aasá) language, commonly rendered Aasax (also rendered as Aasá, Aasáx, Aramanik, Asak, Asax, Assa, Asá), was spoken by the Asa people of Tanzania. The language is extinct language, extinct; ethnic Assa in northern Tanzania remember o ...
am Mediak wx Kisankasa qh Southwestern Nisu are any valid? sv
Tawang Monpa The Takpa or Dakpa language (), ''Dakpakha'', known in India as Tawang Monpa, also known as Brami in Bhutan, is an East Bodish languages, East Bodish language spoken in the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, and in northern Trashigang Distric ...
* wm Adap dp Southern Lolopo sp Eastern Lalu it Ndonde Hamba* jd Lang'e* ne Lopi* ov Laopang bg Kunggara vs Chuanqiandian Cluster Miao qd Karipuna do Amapa* gm

Spurious according to ''Ethnologue'' and ISO 639-3

Following is a list of
ISO 639-3 ISO 639-3:2007, ''Codes for the representation of names of languages – Part 3: Alpha-3 code for comprehensive coverage of languages'', is an international standard for language codes in the ISO 639 series. It defines three-letter codes for i ...
language codes which have been retired since the standard was established in 2006, arranged by the year in which the change request was submitted; in most cases the actual retirement took effect in the beginning of the following year. Also included is a partial list of languages (with their SIL codes) that appeared at one time in ''
Ethnologue ''Ethnologue: Languages of the World'' (stylized as ''Ethnoloɠue'') is an annual reference publication in print and online that provides statistics and other information on the living languages of the world. It is the world's most comprehensi ...
'' but were removed prior to 2006, arranged by the first edition in which they did not appear. The list includes codes that have been retired from ISO 639-3 or languages removed from ''Ethnologue'' because the language apparently does not exist and cannot be identified with an existing language. The list does not include instances where the "language" turns out to be a spelling variant of another language or the name of a village where an already known language is spoken; these are cases of duplicates, which are resolved in ISO 639-3 by a code merger. It does include "languages" for which there is no evidence or which cannot be found. (In some cases, however, the evidence for nonexistence is a survey among the current population of the area, which would not identify extinct languages such as Ware below.) SIL codes are upper case; ISO codes are lower case. Once retired, ISO 639-3 codes are not reused. SIL codes that were retired prior to 2006 may have been re-used or may have reappeared as ISO codes for other languages.

Removed from ''Ethnologue'', 12th ed., 1992

* (PNG) [] * (Brazil) [] * (PNG) [] * , (Brazil) [] * () [] * (PNG) [] * (Mexico) [] – added to ''Ethnologue'' 1988 by mistake due to a misunderstanding, removed in 1992. No evidence that it ever existed. * Senoufo [] – the Tyeliri are a caste of leather workers, and do not have their own language * [] * – name of an ethnic group that speaks Yongkom language, Yongkom [yon]

Removed from ''Ethnologue'', 13th ed., 1996

* (PNG) [] – described as "isolate in need of survey" in the 12th ed.

Removed from ''Ethnologue'', 14th ed., 2000

* 2 [] – a mislabeled fragment of a word list * [], [], [], [], () [], [] – old names for Qiangic languages, some of uncertain correspondence to currently recognized names * [] – an ethnic name for people speaking a variety of Qiangic or Jiarongic languages * Scandinavian Pidgin Sign Language [] – normal inter-language contact, not an established pidgin * Wutana language, Wutana (Nigeria) [] – an ethnic name

Removed from ''Ethnologue'', 15th ed., 2005

* [] * [] *- [], incl. / * [] (though other languages without ISO codes, such as Wila' language, Wila', are also called Lowland Semang) *Mutús language, Mutús [] – suspected to exist, e.g. by Adelaar 2005 * [] * [] – same as Tanjijili language, Tanjijili? Also a possible synonym for Kwak (retired in 2015) * () [] – no evidence it is distinct from Fungom and Bum * [] * []

Retired 2006

* [] – unattested * [] – an old town name * Creole []

Retired 2007

* () [] * Land Dayak languages, Land Dayak [] – language family name, not individual language * Ware [] – Ware is listed as extinct in Maho (2009). When an SIL team in Tanzania were not able to find any evidence of it being spoken, the code was retired. * River Kenyah [], River Kenyah [], Kenyah [], Kenyah [] – Any current use is likely either Mainstream Kenyah [] or Uma' Lung language, Uma' Lung []

Retired 2008

*Aariya language, Aariya [] * [] – name given to several uncontacted groups * [] – prison jargon *Europanto [] – a jest *- [] (Borana & Somali) *Sufrai [] – two languages, Tarpia language, Tarpia and Kaptiau language, Kaptiau, which are not close

Retired 2010

* Ayi (China) [] * (India) [] * []

Retired 2011

* [] *Pongyong language, Pongyong [] *Elpaputih language, Elpaputih [] – could be either of two existing languages

Retired 2012

* Malakhel [] – likely Ormuri *Forest Maninka language, Forest Maninka [] – generic *Wirangu language, Wirangu-Nauo language, Nauo [] – the two varieties which do not form a unit

Retired 2013

* Gugu Mini [] – a generic name * Pidgin [] – never existed * [] – never existed *Yugh language, Yugh [] – duplicate of Yugh language, Yug [] *Lamam language, Lamam [] – duplicate of Romam language, Romam []

Retired 2014

*Mator-Taygi-Karagas language, Mator-Taygi-Karagas [] – duplicate of Mator *Yiddish Sign Language [] – no evidence that it existed *The language, The [] – duplicate of Oy * Imraguen (
Mauritania Mauritania (; ar, موريتانيا, ', french: Mauritanie; Berber languages, Berber: ''Agawej'' or ''Cengit''; Pulaar language, Pulaar: ''Moritani''; Wolof language, Wolof: ''Gànnaar''; Soninke language, Soninke:), officially the Islamic ...
) [] * (') [] – perhaps a typo for Boma language, Boma (''Eboma'') *Bemba language (Congo), Bemba [] – a tribal name *Songa language (Democratic Republic of Congo), Songa [] – a tribal name * Daza [] * Buya [] *Kawésqar language, Kakauhua [] – Kakauhua/Caucahue is an ethnonym, language unattested – see Alacalufan languages * Subi [] – duplicate of Shubi [suj] but that decision was reversed in 2018, bringing [xsj] back * [] – does not exist *=/Kx'au//'ein language, =/Kx'au//'ein [] – dialect of Juǀ'hoan language, Juǀʼhoan tz

Retired 2015

* tl* bh* be– a Saliba and Guahibo surname * ox* [] – uncontacted, and likely one of the neighboring languages * [xbx] – generic name for Pareci language, Parecis, Nambiquaras, or any hostile group (see Cabixi language for one specific use) * na* (Dravidian) [] * Shipibo language, Xipináwa [] * [yri] And several supposed extinct Arawakan languages of Venezuela and Colombia: * [] * [] * [] – a Sáliba surname, perhaps just Piapoco language, Piapoco or Achagua language, Achagua * [] Additional languages and codes were retired in 2015, due to a lack of evidence that they existed, but were not necessarily spurious as languages.

Retired 2016

* Lua people, Lua' [] * Rennellese Sign Language [] – a home sign system, not a full language * [] * [] * [] – no substantive evidence that the language ever existed.

Retired 2017

* [] – no substantive evidence that the language ever existed. * [] * [] – a clan name

Retired 2018

* [] * [] – duplicate of Ta’Oi language, Kriang [] * [] – Meena, a tribe and caste name in India

Retired 2019

* [] * [] * [] * [] * [] * [] * [] * [] * [] * [] * [] * []

Retired 2020

*Bikaru language, Bikaru [bic] – posited based on a poor elicitation of ordinary Bisorio

Retired 2021

* [] * []

References and notes

External links

*{{cite web, url=http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3/codes_retired.asp, title=Retired Code Elements Index, website=
SIL International SIL International (formerly known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics) is an evangelical Christian non-profit organization whose main purpose is to study, develop and document languages, especially those that are lesser-known, in order to ex ...