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Jedek, a Newly Found Human Language

Jedek, a Newly Found Human Language

“Jedek,” spoken in a community within an already-studied “Jahai” language area, is a newly-discovered language in the Malay Peninsula.

Sometimes, trudging through an unexplored piece of jungle may unveil an undiscovered tribe of people speaking an as-yet undocumented language. Every now and then, though, a new tongue is discovered by accident while studying new aspects of an already-known language.

The latter is the circumstance behind which the Jedek language was discovered from within the Malay Peninsula. Researchers from Lund University were looking to expand upon the knowledge of languages in this area, in particular, the Jahai language.  Anthropologists had already studied the villagers in this region well enough, but it was only when these two researchers conducted a strictly linguistic study here that they uncovered a new language, Jedek.

Jedek is related to Jahai, both being Aslian languages which in turn is a sub-family of the Austroasiatic Language Family (also includes Vietnamese and Khmer). But closer study shows Jedek still to be notably distinct as to be considered its own language.

This find grants logic to periodically re-studying an area of Earth, because sometimes one can be rewarded with something new and neat.

Joanne Yager & Niclas Burenhult. 2017. Jedek: A newly discovered Aslian variety of MalaysiaLinguistic Typology 21 (3); doi: 10.1515/lingty-2017-0012.

Jeffrey Daniels