Fact of the Day
Discovered in the early 1500s, Tristan da Cunha was not settled until the early 1800s. The island was notoriously very tough to land on due to rocks and reefs. Tristan is a volcano on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in between Buenos Aires and Cape Town.
The current population of a little under 300 people all descend from the original 15 settlers. There were 8 men and 7 women from England, Ireland, Holland, Scotland, Denmark, Italy, and St. Helena Island. A handful of times a year, the island would be visited by passing seafarers including American whalers. Despite some of the inhabitants knowing Dutch, Danish, and Italian, the island adopted English as the default language. This isolated mix of dialects brewed a unique type of English that intrigues linguists to this day. The vocabulary used is very eclectic and consists of many non-English words. Linguists say that southern American slang was introduced to the island by said whalers.
In the 1930s, the teeth of the islanders were found to be amongst the healthiest in the world. In the early 1960s, the entire island had to be evacuated due to a volcanic eruption. During this time they were housed in Southampton, England because of turmoil in their normal evacuation destination of Cape Town, South Africa. Ironically, at this time their dental records showed a severe lack of fluoride. Somewhat related, a squid was discovered off the coast of the island and it appears to have human teeth.
On the island today there are only 7 last names: Glass, Green, Hagan, Lavarello, Repetto, Rogers and Swain.
Carroll, Paul. "Tristan da Cunha, South Atlantic Ocean." South Atlantic and Subantartic Islands. 15 June 2003. 26 Sep. 2008 .
"NCLLP - Tristan da Cunha." North Carolina State University. 26 Sep. 2008 .
Van Elburg, Bas. "Non-standard verb forms in the dialect of Tristan da Cunha." Historical Sociolinguistics and Sociohistorical Linguistics. 21 Dec. 2000. 26 Sep. 2008 .
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