1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. 3 Languages That Are Hidden B…


3 Languages That Are Hidden But Not Forgotten

3 . Piedmontese (native name: Piemontèis)

Peidmontese is a Romance language with about 3 million speakers in the Piedmont region of Italy. It is considered by the government as a "dialect" of Italian, but linguistically Piedmontese is actually more closely related to French and Catalan. In fact, unless you substitute traditional Peidmontese words with Italian words, the two languages are almost mutually unintelligible.

Sample texts:

  • It giutró a sté mej. (I am going to help you get better.)

  • A l'é mai tròp tard për amprende. (No one is too old to learn)

Spoken sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_FJ_D1BVkI

2 . Shanghainese (上海闲话 or Zaanheh-hehho)

Shanghainese is a Chinese language spoken in Shanghai, along with Standard Mandarin and Cantonese. Shanghainese has been under a recent history of oppression by the two more widely spoken verities of Chinese, to the point where the language has been used in music to challenge the use of Mandarin and Cantonese in the area. There is no official standard of writing using Chinese characters but there is an official transliteration of sounds. Shanghainese is not used in education and rarely used by local radios.

Spoken sample: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaUt3gTwwzU

1 . Yi (ꆈꌠ꒿ )

Yi is spoken in parts of Mainland China, Northern Vietnam and Northern Thailand. It is spoken by the Yi people. It has many dialects and has been growing in use thanks to Internet communications. The Yi language has it's own photographic syllabary with hundreds of characters, which may be closely related to early Chinese writing systems.

Sample of both spoken and written language: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNl9qK3trDQ

Syllabary sample in writing and pronunciation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m43KpZ_90d4

Have you heard of these languages before? Would you learn them and why? What other "hidden" or minority languages are you interested in?

September 25, 2016



well, a language is nothing but a dialect that advanced its career. pretty much every dialect could be considered a potential language and every language is nothing but a dialect shared by a larger community.


Or to quote the well known adage, "A language is a dialect with an army and a navy." (Sometimes even more controversially rendered: "A language is a dialect with an army and a flag.")

Both are somewhat flippant (and potentially offensive, depending on the history of the language in question) ways of putting it, but as you point out, there's a nugget of truth in them, too.

To me, that just means minority languages need the support of the people all the more, to make up for the lack of support from their lack of an army/navy/flag/historical luck/effects of colonialism/whatever it may be... but as a student of Irish, I am very biased. :)


Another interesting minority language is Elfdalien (Ölvdalska/Älvdalska) in Sweden, a nearly extinct language with just over two thousand speakers.

Thanks you sharing this knowledge with us! I think the Yi language sounds interesting.


Have you seen that there is a movement in Dalarna to have the Swedish government formally recognize Elfdalien? Super interesting! https://www.thelocal.se/20160912/can-swedens-ancient-forest-language-be-saved


I like the way Yi (aka Nuosu) sounds. There seems to be a few resources, mostly Chinese, that teaches it. The Syllabary is really mind-blowing but interesting.


I've never heard of any of these. By my learning languages, you can probably tell I like Romance languages, so I'd definitely be interested in Piedmontese.

Also I just want to say that I really love all of your discussions. Every time I click on "Discussion" I see an intriguing discussion or a comment on a different discussion from you and they're all really great. Keep it up!


Piedmontese, definitely. Just because I want to learn something "Italian-ish" without it being Italian. And I tried to learn some Occitan...then gave up.


Piedmontese interests me too. I can't be sure why that is but it would be fun to learn I think.


"Il n'est jamais trop tard pour apprendre" indeed.


Cool! I've never heard of these before, but all of them would be interesting to learn. A "hidden" language I would love to learn is Carapana. I believe it only has a few hundred speakers and most people don't know it exists.


That sounds very interesting! Can you tell us more about Carapana?

I'm glad you enjoyed this post.

Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.
Get started