Boonville, California, a few hours north of San Francisco, is a small town known for its craft beer and its unique contribution to communication – not the high tech communication that is the stuff of Silicon Valley, but rather a more basic sort of innovation. With a population of just over 1,000, Boonville is the home of Boontling, which, if you didn’t know, is the town’s own language, developed over the past century-and-a-half, mostly so that the denizens of Boonville could communicate with one another without being understood by outsiders.
To be accurate, Boontling isn’t really a ‘language’ properly speaking, not the way linguists define it at least. One could more accurately call it a regional vernacular, a jargon perhaps. It’s a variety of spoken English that has never been spoken by more than 1,000 people at a time and today its population of speakers is dwindling as their offspring adopt the ways, customs, and speech of the very outsiders that Boontling was intended to keep outside. No interpreter service can keep Boontling alive. The sheer force of standardization is pushing it into the past.