Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category

Wikipedia as a tool to revive Aymara

9 September 2012

Wikipidiya, the Aymara language version of Wikipedia, has 2273 articles, and the Aymara Wiktionary has 27.

The Ethnologue cites 2.2 million speakers of Central Aymara (ayr) and 220,000 speakers of Southern Aymara (ayc), but is losing ground to Spanish.

Most of the speakers live in Bolivia. Under the presidency of Aymara native Evo Morales, a new constitution was adopted in 2009 that made 36 indigenous languages official, along with Spanish.

As part of the movement to revitalize Aymara, the group Jaqi Aru works to update the Aymara vocabulary in such places as Wikipedia and Global Voices. To learn more about their efforts, read “Bolivians equip ancient language for digital times.” (Please note that the numbers of speakers cited there diverge greatly from the Ethnologue.)

The English language version of Wiktionary has only a few Aymara word entries, but does have quite a few tokens in the Aymara Swadesh word list.

See also Jaqi Aru, the Jaqi Aru Twitter page and the Jaqi Aru Facebook page.

Ojibwe rap on language revitalization

24 June 2011

This blog will be on hiatus for another two weeks or so. In the meantime, here is a rap “Prayers in a Song” by Point of Contact on language revitalization, including two portions in Ojibwe:

First Nations Language Speaking Circle in Saskatchewan

5 June 2011

Dene speaker Allan Adam and Woodlands Cree Cathy Wheaton started the First Nations Language Speaking Circle in April 2009 and continue coordinating it to this day.

The group meets Tuesday nights from 7 to 8:30 at the Albert Branch of the Regina library system in Saskatchewan.

According to the First Nation Language Speaking Project page on Facebook, lessons are provided free of charge in the following languages:

Among the spectacular features of this group is the lessons that Adam has stockpiled on his website. They include video and audio learning, glossaries, links and more. In addition to the languages mentioned above, the page lists Michif (crg), with the hope of adding lessons at some point.

Another great product of this group is the flash cards provided by Cathy Wheaton on the Quizlet website. She has created 82 sets of cards with up to 35 cards in a set. Like Adam’s lessons, the flash cards are offered free on the Internet.

The contact person for the group is Natalie Owl and the lessons are on a drop-in basis. Refreshments are also provided. See the Regina Library calendar for more details.

Learning with TRAILS

30 May 2011

Teach it
Restore it
Archive it
Indigenous
Languages
Software

spells TRAILS, the name of a software program from Swifteagle Enterprises to assist people in learning languages, particularly indigenous ones.

According to the TRAILS website and private emails from Jim Swifteagle Crews, TRAILS is a platform for multimedia language learning programs. Packages include on-site customization within the continental US; additional charges apply for Hawai’i and locations outside the US.

Running on Windows XP or higher, TRAILS provides a way to incorporate images (such as photos), video (such as tribal dances) and sound files (recordings) to enhance the learning experience for the student. A field (separate line) is also available for phonetics, so you can simplify spelling to assist learnings, such as showing the pronunciation of “gnome” is “nohm.”

According to “Shinnecocks Learning an Old Language” on the Sag Harbor Express website, the Shinnecock Indian Nation purchased a TRAILS package which was installed in August 2009. The Shinnecock Indian Nation website lists this as part of a program to create a Shinnecock Language and Culture School and achieve fluent speakers. Shinnecock is a dialect of Mohegan-Montauk-Narragansett (mof), whose last native speaker passed away in 1925.

Page 4a of the TRAILS website shows a sample page of Shinnecock, with the Shinnecock word for “fox” along with a photograph and phonetics to aid pronunciation.

The packages begin at USD 18,000, which includes a computer system, printer and projector plus on-site setup and localization to meet the language needs of the purchasing community. All intellectual property rights remain with the community. Special fonts are not a problem.

Features include:

  • Classroom-ready – The packages are installed on-site with a projector so they can be put to use immediately
  • Annotated video capability – One example is a video of a ceremony with the spoken words written next to the video with an English translation
  • Data import – TRAILS can handle large quantities of data, and importing vocabulary lists from Excel, for example, is easy to do

Other packages are also available that include installation on multiple computers, laptops, and even flash drives.

TRAILS can also be found on Facebook.

Promoting Klingon

1 May 2011

As per the announcement “qep’a’ wa’maH chorghDIch,” the eighteenth annual meeting of the non-profit Klingon Language Institute will meet in Reno, Nevada, US from August 14 to 18, 2011.

Klingon (tlh) is a conlang, or constructed language, first created for “Star Trek: the Motion Picture” by actor James Doohan (Scotty) and subsequently developed for other “Star Trek” movies and shows by Marc Okrand. Other examples of constructed languages are Esperanto (epo) and Ido (ido). Esperanto is the only constructed language listed in the current version of the Ethnologue.

Readers may wonder whether a fantasy language such as Klingon has a place on this blog. There are aspects of the Klingon movement that relate to endangered languages and may be of interest to language planners and learners.

Klingon has no native speakers—though linguist d’Armond Speers spoke exclusively to his son in Klingon until he was three, his son does not speak the language today—and therefore Klingon resembles natural languages that are sleeping (also referred to as being dormant or extinct). In such situations, revitalizers rely on written or recorded materials to resuscitate the language into a spoken, living form.

Probably the most common written materials of endangered and dormant languages are Bibles and word lists or dictionaries. These are critical for language revitalization, even in cases where there are native speakers. For Klingon, canonical or official references include the books “The Klingon Dictionary (Star Trek),”  “The Klingon Way: A Warrior’s Guide (Star Trek: The Klingon Book of Virtues)” and “Klingon for the Galactic Traveler (Star Trek)” as well as audio tapes and other materials.

In many cases, a language may be spoken over a large area, such as in multiple villages, and the language varieties may differ. If each variety of language is considered valid, it is difficult to construct learning materials and dictionaries, as so many variants must be included. Doing so may also lead to confusion among learners. On the other side of the coin, selecting one variety may cause discord among those whose variety is not chosen.

Whether a word or form is considered official is referred to as canonicity. In the case of Klingon, this is an important concept. All languages change over time, and the degree to which people may coin new phrases is not set in stone. For now, anyway, adherence to the Klingon canons is a major concern in the Klingon community (culture).

Klingon is remarkable in the dedication of devotees. Its appeal to people may be of reference to language planners. Why does an invented conlang with no economic value and nearly no communicative use continue to attract learners when so many natural languages struggle with dwindling numbers? Surely, the shock value and quirky nature of learning Klingon are factors in Klingon’s popularity. The continuing popularity of “Star Trek” is doubtlessly a factor as well.

Also, the warrior culture of Klingons, perhaps tapping into the popularity of Japanese samurai, may be attractive in a way similar to how fencing, sword fighting and jousting are popular among Renaissance fair devotees. The brusque nature of Klingons—the expression “nuqneH” for hello literally means “What do you want?”—gives Klingon another unique characteristic.

A mailing list provides a way for people interested in Klingon to interact and ask questions. Since January 1, there have been a little over 300 messages on the list, averaging out to about 900 messages a year. Also, members of the Klingon Language Institute can download Klingon fonts as well as gain access to members-only materials about Klingon. (Membership is only USD 10 per year.)

Facebook has pages on Klingons and a page was started with the goal of getting Facebook to add Klingon as one of the Facebook interface languages. The request was granted, and nearly 7000 phrases have been translated. If you have a Facebook account (membership is free), go to account settings > language and select “tlhIngan Hol” for a Klingon interface. (Beware: Make sure you can set your language back again!) You can also help translate the remaining 32,000 phrases at the translation project page.

People are also tweeting in Klingon. Daily Klingon Word is active and klingons provides a list of Klingon tweeters.

Another aspect of Klingon that makes it attractive is that it has a literature. Translating children’s stories and other literature into an endangered language may provide a means of drawing people to the language. “Winnie Ille Pu (Latin Edition)” (the Latin version of “Winnie the Pooh”) and “Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Latin edition)” (the first “Harry Potter” book) are just two examples. Similarly, “Gilgamesh:: A Klingon Translation” (Gilgamesh) and “The Klingon Hamlet” are available, making it enjoyable to learn Klingon while reading something familiar.

And then is the conference, mentioned at the start of this post. Introductory lessons will be provided and Klingon grammarians will be on hand to assist those learning the language. Other activities include socializing, language games and performances.

Together, these activities and resources provide a community and an infrastructure for learning and using Klingon in a fun way. Perhaps some of these ideas may be of help in the revitalization of natural languages.

See also “taH pagh taHbe‘” on Talking Alaska on Klingon and endangered languages.

Nuu-chah-nulth Facebook page providing lots of short lessons

29 April 2011

As reported in “New Technology Used to Restore Ancestral Language” on the Ha-Shilth-Sa website, Naomi Fraser has a Facebook page dedicated to Nuu-chah-nulth (noo).

Created in July 2010, the Facebook page has a little more than one post per day on average, generally a very short video demonstrating how to pronounce words and phrases. Often the videos contrast two words or syllables that are similar. Tuesday’s lesson, for example has the goal of learning the word “ʔuuʔumḥisa” (just the right amount), and provides the building blocks of ʔuu, ʔu, ʔuum, ʔum, ḥii, ḥi, saa, and sa to help you pronounce the target word correctly.

The Facebook page also has a YouTube companion, the Nuuchahnulth Language channel, with Katherine Fraser pronouncing words and phrases.

In both the Facebook and YouTube videos, the words are written as well, aiding in people learning how the complex sounds of Nuuchahnulth are written.

Gullah-Geechee Conference on Saturday

31 March 2011

Gullah (gul), or Geechee as the language is known to insiders, is spoken by about 250,000 people on the East Coast of the US from the Carolinas to Florida. The language is a creole, based primarily on English with contributions from Akan, Bambara, Ewe, Fula, Hausa, Igbo, Kimbundu, Kongo, Mandinka, Mende, Umbundu, Vai, Wolof and Yoruba (all of which appear to have large speaking populations).

Cape Fear Community College is hosting a conference on Saturday, April 2, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Wilmington, North Carolina, US. The topic of the conference is the future of the Gullah-Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.

The Gullah people are an African-American population with a unique culture within the United States. Many Americans are familiar with the Brer Rabbit (Brer = Brother) stories about a trickster rabbit, an oral tradition of the Gullahs.

The Gullah people are working to maintain their culture, including their language. In 2005, a New Testament was completed in Gullah after 20 years of work.

YouTube has a video by Richard Green on Ultimate Gullah, a store and cultural center in South Carolina. Gullah/Geechee Nation is one of the pages on Facebook focused on Gullah culture.

A glossary of some Gullah words can be found at “A Glossary of Gullah Wordstaken from The Black Border by Ambrose E. Gonzales” and the full text of the book at “The black border; Gullah stories of the Carolina coast.” Gullah songs can be found at Gullah. The movie “Conrack” about a white schoolteacher who gets a job on an island teaching African-American children is a true story that took place in a Gullah community. Many other books and movies are also available.