Linguists working in the Malay peninsula have discovered a previously undocumented language, which has been named Jedek.
Researchers from the University of Lund, Sweden, said the language was part of the Aslian family of Austroasiatic, which includes Vietnamese and Cambodian. It is spoken by just 280 people who are part of a settled hunter-gatherer group living in the north of the peninsula.
“Jedek is not a language spoken by an unknown tribe in the jungle, as you would perhaps imagine, but in a village previously studied by anthropologists,” said Niclas Burenhult, associate professor of general linguistics at Lund. “As linguists, we had a different set of questions and found something that the anthropologists missed.”
The team came across Jedek while documenting speakers of another Aslian language known as Jahai.
Over time, they noticed that many people in the village where the hunter-gatherer group lived were using words, phonemes and grammatical structures that are not …