Archive for the ‘‘Ōlelo Hawai’i (Hawaiian)’ Category

Opposition to lottery system for kindergarten in Hawai’i

11 May 2013

As outlined in “Pūnana Leo,” the introduction of the language nest in Hawai’i, using Hawaiian as the medium of instruction, faced many legal and social hurdles. According to the ʻAha Pūnana Leo website, there are now 21 immersion schools in Hawaiʻi, educating about 2,000 students from preschool through twelfth grade.

Educating keiki, or children, in Hawaiian has become so popular that in Pāʻia, they ran out of space in the program. With space for 40 children, applications were received for 53 children. Pāʻia Elementary School decided to hold a lottery to decide which children would be admitted.

But the idea of a lottery is opposed by Nā Leo Kākoʻo O Maui, a not-for-profit organization that supports Hawaiian language immersion. According to Kaheleonolani Dukelow, an organizer for a demonstration against the lottery, a lottery would never be held to determine which children are given an English education, and so it isn’t right to hold a lottery for Hawaiian education.

Read more in “Hawaiian Immersion Lottery at Pāʻia School Postponed.”

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sbuusaɫ sqʷuʔalikʷ dxʷʔal ti dxʷləšucid – 2

23 April 2013

Among the talks at the Fourth Annual Lushootseed Language Conference on Saturday was “Teaching Language Use” by Zalmai ʔəswəli Zahir, who has been teaching Lushootseed (lut) since 1989.

Noting that learning Lushootseed in the classroom does not translate into everyday use, Zahir focused on how to create a speaking environment.

He said that language nests are the only known method that works to revitalize a language. He also mentioned that in addition to  Maori and Hawaiian, languages that language nests have been applied to include Blackfoot, Cherokee, Chinook Wawa and Navajo. He also noted that modern Hebrew (heb) got its start with a language nest (see also Eliezer Ben-Yehuda).

His suggestion was to create a language nest in your home, preferably your kitchen. The steps he outlined are:

  1. Define the room or area where the language nest will be located, discussing the issue with all family members.
  2. Learn vocabulary for micro-domains, such as washing the dishes and cutting up vegetables. By working on one a week, a reasonable vocabulary can be built up in six months. Put up labels.
  3. Launch the nest, allowing only the target language to be spoken there. When friends and family members visit, tell them beforehand about the rules.

Once the nest is well established, language use can be expanded to other domains. Zahir also talked about the importance of maintaining motivation, and how talking to others in the home and the community about the progress of the nest and other aspects of language learning can keep people motivated.

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.

Talk: riverine Ahtna

21 April 2011

Two ways to give directions in English are in terms of the points of the compass (north, south, east and west) and in terms of the speaker’s body (frontward, backward, left and right). In Hawaiian (haw), the word mauka means “toward the mountain” and makai means “toward the sea.”

Other languages use directions according to the flow of a river (upriver, downriver). One such language is Ahtna (aht), spoken in the Copper River area of Alaska. Four stems showing this riverine system in Ahtna are found in the paper “A theory is only as good as the data: casting a wide net in Kabardian and Ahtna documentation” by Ayla B. Applebaum and Andrea L. Berez:

  • nae’ — upriver, behind
  • daa’ — downriver
  • ngge’ — from water, upland
  • tsen — toward water, lowland

Berez is giving a talk on this system on May 26, 2011, in Santa Barbara, California. The title of the talk is “Directional Reference in Ahtna: Endangered Language, Endangered Geographic Knowledge.”

The Ethnologue gives 35 speakers of Ahtna as of 2000 while Wikipedia gives 80 speakers spread over four dialects. To learn Ahtna words, see “Ahtna Noun Dictionary and Pronunciation Guide,” updated last month by John E. Smelcer.

Immersion Signs

6 April 2011

In Hawai’i, signs are filled with Hawaiian (haw): aloha (hello/good-bye), kāne (men) on the restrooms and more. Ojibwe (oji) has now come to the American town of Bemidji, Minnesota in the same way.

This is a fantastic development. Not only does it assist those who speak Ojibwe and educate people wanting to learn Ojibwe, it raises the awareness of the existence of Ojibwe and confirms the place Ojibwe holds in the community.

Read the exciting details at “Whole Town of Bemidji Becomes Ojibwa Language Immersion Experience” on the SAIVUS blog.

Hawai’i Resolution for Hawaii Language University

8 March 2011

Hawai’i State Senators Brickwood Galuteria, Michelle Kidani, Jill N. Tokuda, Gilbert Kahele, and Malama Solomon have offered (submitted) a resolution requesting consideration of a Hawai’i-language university.

Citing the facts that Hawai’i is the only US state with a native language as an official language, that the 2000 census showed Hawaiian is the only native language in the US that is growing, and that the University of Hawai’i System is the only provider of public higher education, the resolution calls for an academic symposium to consider creating a Hawaiian Language University within the University of Hawai’i System. The resolution also cites the presence of the Puko’a Council, an advisory group formed in 2009 of Native people for the University of Hawai’i System.

No hearings or further actions have been taken at this point. Click Measure History to watch progress of this resolution. Click SCR52 to read the text of the resolution.

In the United States, a “state senator” is a member of the upper house in a state, as opposed to a “US senator” who represents a state in Washington, DC.

Language Successfully Revived?

28 January 2011

The field of language revitalization is a new one, and nobody knows to what extent it will be possible to save the huge number of endangered languages we have today. Even whether a language can be brought back from the brink has been an unknown.

Although Hebrew was revitalized in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it had special religious uses still in place and other unique circumstances that facilitated its rebirth.

The language nest programs in Aotearoa (New Zealand) developed by the Māori under the name Kōhanga Reo and then the Hawaiians under the name Pūnana Leo have been hailed as exemplar models for language revitalization programs.

This morning, the Star Advertiser issued an article on Kauanoe Kamana, principal at Ke Kula O Nawahiokalaniopuu elementary school in Hilo.

In the article, it says, “Kamana grew up while Hawaiian was considered a dying language…” implying that Hawaiian has emerged from the endangered language category as a living, vibrant language.

While the article goes on to talk about all the work yet ahead for language revitalization, the optimism in the article cannot be denied. Hawaiian is a beacon of hope for language revitalizationists everywhere!

National Native Language Revitalization Summit

19 July 2010

On July 13-14, Native American educators met in Washington, DC, with officials from the Departments of Education and the Interior as well as members of Congress to discuss language revitalization and federal policies. The NA community was represented by Cherokee (Tsalagi), Muckleshoot, Native Hawaiian (ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi) and Ojibwe (Anishinaabe, Anishinaabemowin or Ojibwemowin) educators.

Among the issues were the Native American Languages Act (NALA), whose implementation is sorely lacking, and the No Child Left Behind Act, which hampers the NALA.

The annual summit is organized by the National Alliance to Save Native Languages.

More information:

Twenty years of immersion

7 September 2007

Saving a language from extinction by Loren Moreno in the Honolulu Advertiser includes photos and a video on the celebrations for twenty years of immersion in ‘Ōlelo Hawai’i (Hawaiian). The article cites proficiency in the language in more than 2000 children.

Still on blog vacation until the beginning of October, but this was too exciting to pass up!