Nepal's Kusunda Language, Which Has No Known Origin, Also Has No Words For 'Yes' or 'No'

From a report, shared by a reader: Through the winter mist of the hills of the Terai, in lowland Nepal, 18-year-old Hima Kusunda emerges from the school’s boarding house, snug in a pink hooded sweatshirt. Hima is one of the last remaining Kusunda, a tiny indigenous group now scattered across central western Nepal. Their language, also called Kusunda, is unique: it is believed by linguists to be unrelated to any other language in the world. Scholars still aren’t sure how it originated. And it has a variety of unusual elements, including lacking any standard way of negating a sentence, words for “yes” or “no”, or any words for direction. According to the latest Nepali census data from 2011, there are 273 Kusunda remaining. But only one woman, 48-year-old Kamala Khatri, is known to be fluent.

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