A team of linguists from France, Poland, and the US, has announced from Turkey the discovery of an unknown language. Jean-Pierre Desmarais, head of the international organisation ‘Linguistic Analysis Research Group’ (LARG), said he and his team heard that trials were taking place in Turkey in which the defendants spoke an unknown language. LARG, based in Strasbourg, France, was founded in 2001.
‘When I heard about this we put together a team and headed to the area to analyze this unknown language,’ said Desmarais.
The unusual coincidence says Desmarais is that another team of linguistics just discovered a previously unknown language in India last month. Researchers came across the new language—dubbed Koro—along the western ridges of Arunachal Pradesh, India’s northeastern-most state.
However, here in Turkey, said Desmarais, we never expected to discover an unknown language. ‘Koro is only spoken by 800 or so people and is in a very remote area. Diyarbakır is a thriving metropolis. I still can’t believe it. It is extraordinaire!’ he exclaimed.
The team has requested recordings from this trial and other trials in which defendants have made statements such as ‘Ez dixwazim bi Kurdî biaxivim’ or ‘Ez li vir im,’ all of which have been labelled an ‘unknown language’ by the Turkish courts. Courts in Istanbul and Diyarbakır however have been reluctant to hand over the recordings.
Cathy Greaney, the US participant in the team, was impressed at the sheer number of speakers of this ‘unknown language’ she has encountered. ‘There seem to be thousands, if not millions, of people who speak this language. I just don’t understand how it can be unknown. It’s a remarkable discovery.’
Bogumil Mroz, the lead Polish investigator, said the team attempted to determine what language it was by typing a phrase into the online ‘Unknown Language Detector’ tool. ‘It could not identify it,’ said Mroz. ‘It said it is Turkish.’
He says he believes, however, it is of Indo-European origin and not related to Turkish. ‘We have come to the conclusion, based on a thorough analysis of letters in this unknown language’s alphabet, that it cannot be Turkish. There are three letters used quite frequently, W, Q, and X, that simply do not exist in Turkish.’
Desmarais, Mroz, and Greaney will be heading back to Strasbourg at the end of November to continue their investigations. Says Desmarais, ‘We hope to learn what language this is by early spring. Then we can report our findings to the judges in these cases.’