Beothuk language
The Beothuk language also called Beothukan, was spoken by the indigenous Beothuk
The Beothuk were one of the aboriginal peoples in Canada. They lived on the island of Newfoundland at the time of European contact in the 15th and 16th centuries...

 people of Newfoundland. The Beothuk have been extinct since 1829 and there are few written accounts of their language, little is known about it. There have been claims of links with the neighbouring Algonquian language
Algonquian languages
The Algonquian languages also Algonkian) are a subfamily of Native American languages which includes most of the languages in the Algic language family. The name of the Algonquian language family is distinguished from the orthographically similar Algonquin dialect of the Ojibwe language, which is a...

 family but there is not enough evidence to draw strong conclusions. In 2007 DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

 studies showed genetic links between the Beothuk and Algonquian-speaking Mi'kmaq
Mi'kmaq language
The Mi'kmaq language is an Eastern Algonquian language spoken by nearly 9,100 Mi'kmaq in Canada and the United States out of a total ethnic Mi'kmaq population of roughly 20,000. The word Mi'kmaq is a plural word meaning 'my friends' ; the adjectival form is Míkmaw...


Beothuk is known only from four word lists written down in the 18th and 19th centuries. They carry over 400 words but no examples of connected speech. Claims of Beothuk's link with Algonquian languages date back at least to Robert Latham in 1862. From 1968 onwards John Hewson has put forth evidence of sound correspondences and shared morphology with Proto-Algonquian. However, a lack of any systematic or consistent representation of the vocabulary in the wordlists makes it daunting to establish what the sound system of Beothuk was, and words listed separately on the lists may be the same word transcribed in sundry ways. Moreover, the lists are known to have many mistakes. This, along with the lack of connected speech leaves little upon which to build any reconstruction of Beothuk. Owing of this overall lack of meaningful evidence, Ives Goddard
Ives Goddard
Robert Hale Ives Goddard, III is curator emeritus in the Department of Anthropology of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution. He is widely considered the leading expert on the Algonquian languages and the larger Algic language family.-Early life and education:Ives...

 and Lyle Campbell
Lyle Campbell
Lyle Richard Campbell is a linguist and leading expert on indigenous American languages—especially those of Mesoamerica—and on historical linguistics in general. He also has expertise in Uralic languages. He is presently Professor of Linguistics at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.-Life and...

 claim that any connections between Beothuk and Algonquian are unknown and likely unknowable.

In 1910 American anthropologist Frank Speck
Frank Speck
Frank Gouldsmith Speck was an American anthropologist and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in the Algonquian and Iroquoian peoples among the Eastern Woodland Native Americans of the United States and First Nations peoples of eastern boreal Canada.-Early life and...

recorded a seventy-five year-old native woman named Santu Toney singing a song in the Beothuk language. The recording resurfaced at the very end of the twentieth century. Some sources give the year 1929, but the 1910 date is confirmed in Speck's book Beothuk and Micmac (New York 1922, p. 67). The words are hard to hear and not understood. Santu said she had been taught the song by her father (which may be evidence that at least one Beothuk was alive after the death of Shanawdithit in 1829, given Santu Toney was born about 1835). Contemporary researchers have tried to make a transcription of the song along with hoping to clean up the recording with modern methods. Native groups have learned the song.

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