Archive for the ‘language revitalization’ Category

A YouTube Channel as Part of an Ecosystem – Old English

2 November 2015

Old English (ang) is the oldest form of English (eng), one that developed when Germanic tribes settled in Great Britain around the fifth century. As a convenience, OE is considered to have given way to Middle English (enm) in 1066 when William the Conqueror successfully invaded Great Britain, making French (fra) the language of the rulers and resulting in a mixture of French and OE. (There are scholars who take the view that Middle English derives instead from Scandinavian languages resulting from the Viking incursions.)

Although the grammar is very different from Modern English, because many of the core words are the same or similar, Old English is relatively easy for English speakers today to learn, and interest in OE has grown in recent years.

Among the resources available are an OE version of Wikipedia, which includes terms for modern concepts and things created to fit the OE vocabulary. For example, Modern English is called “Nīwenglisc” and an automobile is called a “selffērende wægn.” Also, among the thousands (or tens of thousands) of vocabulary sets on Memrise (a computer flash card website/mobile app) is an Old English set of 86 words with sound.

Another resource is YouTube channels, where a channel is a sub-webpage on YouTube providing videos, playlists, discussion and other information. One is Leornende Eald Englisc (Learning Old English), a channel created by Kevin with nearly 700 subscribers. Although his channel is now dormant, his subscribers have left messages encouraging him to come back when his alternative reality (real life) is less stressful.

With more than a year of videos posted, Kevin has created playlists, which are groupings of videos classified by topic such as pronunciation and discussion. Creating videos can be labor-intensive due to the preparation and editing required, which often discourages YouTubers. Many of Kevin’s videos, however, such as those in the Old English Pronunciation Guide and Old English Pronunciation guides are merely three or four seconds, which shows how easy it can be to make useful additions to a video collection without a lot of work.

Another of his playlists is Discussion, which has three videos on: whether OE is Scandinavian, how Kevin became interested in OE, and reviving OE as a living language.

YouTube also provides links to other OE YouTube channels, and Kevin has links to his Facebook and Twitter pages.

Kevin’s project shows how videos can provide information, and how playlists can make it easy to develop a number of areas of linguistic interest, creating a node in a linguistic revival ecosystem with crosslinks to build the community.

High school senior revitalizing Salish

11 May 2013

Vance Home Gun, a high school senior, created an organization named “Yoyoot skwkwimlt” to promote Salish, also known as Montana Salish (fla). Read an interview with Gun in “Language Preservation Made Vance Home Gun a Champion for Change.”

Resources: US tribal colleges/universities and revitalization

8 May 2013

Laura Paskus has compiled a list of books and articles about language revitalization. See her “24-4 Summer 2013 “Language Revitalization” Resource Guide” on the Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education site. The article includes a link to a map of tribal colleges and universities in the US.

Reviving Barngarla from 19th century dictionary

7 May 2013

Once spoken in South Australia, Barngarla (bjb) is making a comeback from written records and elders’ memories.

The awakening of the language is being led by the Chair of Endangered Languages at Adelaide University, Ghil’ad Zuckermann, who has vowed to make Adelaide a center of language revitalization.

The primary source for words is a dictionary written in the 1840s. Read more about the reawakening of Barngarla in “Pride and identity: Reviving Indigenous languages” and “Australia’s unspeakable indigenous tragedy.” Read about Ghil’ad Zuckermann in “Endangered languages have a new champion.”

University of Arizona June Courses: Taking Language Home

6 May 2013

Between 3 and 28 June, the American Indian Language Development Institute at the University of Arizona is offering seven courses aimed at helping people document, learn and maintain languages.

The offerings are:

    1. Where Are Your Keys by Evan Gardner,
    2. Community Language Archiving by Shannon Bishoff,
    3. Creating Linguistic Products for Native American Languages by Colleen Fitzgerald,
    4. Teaching Indigenous Language Through Traditional Ecological Knowledge by Teresa Newberry,
    5. Topics in Native American Linguistics by Luis Barragan,
    6. Language Immersion and Acquisition in the Home and the Community by Jennie DeGroat, and
    7. Revitalizing Spiritual Traditions by Phil Cash Cash.

Promotional video by Evan Gardner:

Promotional video by Phil Cash Cash:

 

More doubts about te reo Māori

23 July 2012

Te reo (the language) Māori (mri) holds a special place in language revitalization as the first language to undergo successful revitalization. Their language nest program provided a cultural framework with which to promote language use, and their model was adapted for the Hawaiian language, which has also been successful. The Māori program is therefore looked to for both practice and inspiration.

This week is Māori Language Week, running from 23 to 29 July, and 1 August will be the 25 anniversary of the Māori Language Commission. And this occasion is also bringing focus to questions that have risen recently about whether the Māori program will survive.

Read “Māori Language Week: Te reo becoming lost in translation” for an outlook of both optimism and pessimism about the future of Māori. Also, see other posts on this blog by clicking on the Māori link below.

Microsoft Translator Hub

13 July 2012

Microsoft has created a system to assist in translation. One of their targets is language revitalization. To join the translator hub, you must sent a request that includes how you want to use the hub. See Microsoft Translator Hub for further details.

According to the Microsoft video outlining the project, the system allows formats such as .doc, .pdf, .txt and .tmx, the latter being a format used in translation.

See also “Microsoft Translator Hub Will Save Languages From Extinction” for an overview of the project.

A language dies every how many days?

11 July 2012

In the field of language endangerment, a common estimate is that half of the languages living today will fall silent in this century (or over the next 100 years).

The Ethnologue counts 6,909 languages living today, and 7,000 is also a common estimate of the number of languages currently spoken.

Yet a third estimate is that a language falls silent every 14 days. But 100 years multiplied by 365 days per year and divided by 14 results in 2,607 languages.

So if 3,500 languages will die over the next 100 years, how many days is that on average? Dividing 3,500 languages by 100 years yields 35 languages per year, and dividing 365 (days/year) by 35 languages yields 10.43 days.

Given the rapid increase in efforts to stabilize and revitalize languages, there is hope that neither the 14-day or 10.43-day estimate will come true, but even so, both are averages and languages will not die in an even manner. Rather, language silence will occur in uneven clumps.

Admittedly, though, citing one language as dying every 14 days makes for good press.

“Oh, Mr. Wardrop, I wish I was aboriginal”

3 July 2012

Parkes East Public School is an elementary school in New South Wales, Australia. Since at least 2009, they have had a Wiradjuri (wrh) language program, and this year’s management plan shows that all children partake in that education.

According to the Ethnologue, the language is extinct, but in the video “Wiradjuri,” Lionel Lovett says he knows the language (and the children think he must be two hundred years old).

The video shows some of the education in action. In a startling reversal from the city of Parkes being “very racist” a few decades ago (according to “Our Mother Tongue: Wiradjuri“), one of the teachers interviewed in the video says that students say to him, “Oh, Mr. Wardrop, I wish I was aboriginal.”

Update: See “How a language transformed a town” for more on this topic.

“We Are Our Language”

3 July 2012

Published last year, “We Are Our Language: An Ethnography of Language Revitalization in a Northern Athabaskan Community” is a volume by Barbra A. Meek, associate professor of anthropology and linguistics at the University of Michigan.

According to the book’s page,

The process must mend rips and tears in the social fabric of the language community that result from an enduring colonial history focused on termination. These “disjunctures” include government policies conflicting with community goals, widely varying teaching methods and generational viewpoints, and even clashing ideologies within the language community.

The language that is the focus of the book is Kaska (kkz), a language spoken in the Yukon Territory and British Columbia. According to a review by Patrick Moore in last fall’s edition of Anthropological Linguistics, the book discusses how focusing on elders in revitalization alienates younger speakers.

Google previews of the book are available at “We Are Our Language.” The table of contents are:

  • Ruptured: Kaska in Context
  • Endangered Languages and the Process of Language Revitalization
  • Growing Up Endangered
  • Manufacturing Legitimate Languages
  • “We Are Our Language”: The Political Discourses of Language Endangerment
  • From Revitalization to Socialization: Disjuncture and Beyond
 This book is the part of a series titled “First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies,” a collaboration of four university presses.