5 Endangered Language Songs to Listen to This Week

A musician playing the guitar.

Eijõ by Tuļļi Lum

This slow and soothing folk song is sung in Livonian, a language spoken near the Black Sea in Latvia. Livonian is critically endangered and there may not be any fluent speakers left. Still, young Livonians have reconnected with their culture and many are now learning the language.

Immaqaali by Nunariik

Beware – listen to this song a few times, and it will get stuck in your head! It’s a cheerful tune in Inuktitut and English about the inuksuk, a traditional type of landmark.
Immaqaali is also featured on the “Singuistics” app by Pinnguaq. If you have an iPad, you can download the app to learn the Inuktitut lyrics and sing along!

Nada Sō Sō

Natsukawa, a folk singer from Okinawa, sings the first half of this song in Japanese, then switches to Uchināguchi (Okinawan language) at 1:28. Can you tell the languages apart? Whether in Japanese or Uchināguchi, this is a heartfelt song and Natsukawa performs it beautifully.

Da Bhfaigheann Mo Rogha De Thriur Acu / Dhannsamaid Le Ailean / Cairistion’ Nigh’n Eoghainn

The album Dual is a collaboration between traditional Irish and Scots Gaelic performers, and this is my favorite track. Just like the album, it’s a mix of songs from both languages. Da Bhfaigheann Mo Rogha De Thriur Acu (English: If I Had My Choice) is a traditional love song. Dhannsamaid Le Ailean (English: Dance with Allan) and Cairistion’ Nigh’n Eoghainn (English: Cairistiona Ewen’s Daughter) are both celebratory tunes about dancing.
The lyrics and translations are quite difficult to find, so I’m including them (with sources) in the comments.

Pate Pate by Te Vaka
https://www.tevaka.com/listen/s/pate_pate
Pacific group Te Vaka just recorded songs for Disney’s Moana, but they’ve been performing for decades. This upbeat song is written in the Tokelau language, spoken by about 1,500 people in the South Pacific. It’s sure to get you dancing!

What’s your favorite song in an endangered language? Share your recommendations in the comments, on Twitter, or on Facebook!