How a language that went unspoken for a half-century was brought back from the dead

In the summer of 1930, at the dawn of the Great Depression, a 21-year-old linguist named Morris Swadesh set out for Louisiana to record the area’s Native American languages, which were disappearing rapidly.

Morris and his peers were in a race against time to document them, and in the small town of Charenton on the Bayou Teche, he encountered Benjamin Paul and Delphine Ducloux, members of a small tribe called Chitimacha—and the last two speakers of their language.

But today, if you visited the Chitimacha reservation, you’d never know that their language went unspoken for half a century.

Read more: Quartz

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