Archive for the ‘dialects’ Category

UAE report on Indian languages

13 July 2012

The National, a newspaper of the United Arab Emirates, today ran an article on saving languages in India. Titled “Project tries to save India’s linguistic treasures,” the article notes that of 1,635 tongues spoke in India, 53 are listed by the Endangered Languages project and 197 are classified as between endangered and vulnerable by UNESCO.

The article provides an overview of some of the organizations working to maintain and document languages. Specific languages mentioned include:

The content of “Hindi-English-Great Andamanese dictionary” mentioned in the article can be searched on the dictionary page of VOGA: Vanishing Voices of the Great Andamanese.

Of the seven non-immigrant languages listed in the Ethnologue for the UAE, none are endangered.

App for 100+ languages

1 July 2012

The Cherokee app was released for the iPhone in 2010 (see “YouTube video of Cherokee iPhone app” on this blog). Cherokee has a  writing system (Cherokee syllabary) requiring 85 or 86 unique symbols for writing.

Starting in October 2011, FirstVoices has released a series of apps for use on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch:

Each is a free app with educational content.

While the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch have an easy interface for switching among languages, there are many languages that require characters not available. On 18 June, FirstVoices released their FirstVoices Chat app that provides characters for more than 100 languages spoken in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US.

Also free, the FirstVoices Chat app allows you to set up to seven languages to type in.

High school to offer Sencoten

18 June 2012

Stelly’s Secondary School, a high school in the Canadian town of Central Saanich, BC, will be offering language lessons in Saanich (str-saa) this fall.

Written also as Sənčaθən, as well as SENĆOŦEN in the language itself, Saanich is considered a dialect of North Straits Salish (str). According to “Language holds keys to history,” 50 students have already signed up for the course.

Give me an “S,”
Give me an “E,”
Give me an “N,”
Give me a “Ć….”

Cantonese endangered?

14 June 2012

Could Cantonese (yue-can) be endangered?

Surely not yet, but Michelle da Silva makes a case for its rapid decline in “Is Cantonese an endangered language?

Long the most common Chinese language heard in the Americas and Hong Kong, liberalization of emigration in China led to large numbers of Mandarin speakers moving to Hong Kong and abroad. Cantonese continues to be spoken as the lingua franca of Guǎngdōng Province, but with the focus on Mandarin in the education system, Cantonese may have reached a tipping point.

Language more precious than land, and Kaurna

29 May 2012

According to “Professor pushes to save endangered languages,” Ghil’ad Zuckermann of the University of Adelaide wants to keep the colors black (people) and red (soil) on the Aboriginal flag but replace the color yellow (sun) with pink (tongue) because of the importance of language.

The professor accuses Australia of linguicide and wants the Australian government to commit $100 million (approx. US $100 million) for reviving Australian and Torres Strait languages.

Also discussed in the article is the development of proper nouns in Kaurna (zku), a language whose last native speaker died in 1931 and which was reintroduced in the 1990s or earlier. About 800 proper nouns have been developed such as for places, conferences and buildings. To learn more about Kaurna, visit Kaurna Warra Pintyandi.

Also noted in the article is the loss of Barossa Deutsch, a German dialect once spoken in Southern Australia.

Videos for eight languages on Gadling

18 May 2012

Gadling, which bills itself as the “world’s top travel blog,” published a post today on eight seldom-heard languages. Each has a YouTube video to watch.

The languages include:

Matȟó Waúŋšila Thiwáhe – a cartoon with Lakota values and Lakota dialects

15 September 2011

The Berenstain Bears are a family of bears in Bear Country who deal with various situations in their bear society. Popular among children and educational professionals for 49 years, the Berenstain Bears have a series of books as well as cartoons and video games. According to “About the Matȟó Waúŋšila Thiwáhe TV Series,” the values in the original series such as bravery, respect, generosity and fortitude are shared by the Lakota culture.

The Berenstain Bears was therefore selected to be made into the first Native American language cartoon series, and after more than a year of work, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Lakota Language Consortium have begun airing episodes—two are being released each week, according to “Native American Version of Berenstain Bears Launches Soon.”

The Lakota Bears site is also making the episodes available to the public after airing. Two are available right now. The site also offers an introduction to the voice actors and the project, and will offer the DVD in November 2011.

It is common in cartoons for the characters to have different speaking styles or dialects, and one of the key features of “Matȟó Waúŋšila Thiwáhe” is that the characters have different Lakota dialects, representing all ways of speaking Lakota.

It can be difficult to capture the attention of children. This is a model project that will hopefully not only catch kids’ attention, but teach them strong values and assist them in learning to speak Lakota.

Lakota (lkt) is a language spoken primarily in North and South Dakota in the US as well as surrounding states and in Canada.

Thanks to Summer Vodder for the tip. The story about “Matȟó Waúŋšila Thiwáhe” is spreading rapidly through the media, and can now be found on SFGate, the Huffington Post, and Rachel Maddow’s blog.

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

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.

Last speaker of Nuchatlaht in news

30 April 2011

Nuu-chah-nulth (noo) is an endangered language spoken on Vancouver Island, off the western shore of mainland Canada. According to Wikipedia, Nuu-chah-nulth has 12 dialects, though there is a huge gray area in determining whether two ways of speakinh are different languages, dialects or just variation.

Estimates on the number of speakers vary from 115 to 500, with the lower number probably closer to the actual number. Nuu-chah-nulth has 35 consonants, seven more than English, and has interesting linguistic properties.

According to “Lapsing languages offer different view of world” on the Times Colonist site, the last speaker of Nuchatlaht is Alban Michael (84 years old) and he rarely gets to use his language any more. It is only when he sees a friend who speaks the Mowachaht dialect, which is somewhat close to Nuchatlaht, that Michael uses his language.

You can find Michael’s voice on the Ehattesaht Nuchatlaht Community Portal of the FirstVoices website. Words he has recorded include kʷapiqiły̓aq (coffee pot), kałniiłiq (ceiling light) and  ʔusit (body).