Archive for the ‘dictionaries’ Category

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.”

sbuusaɫ sqʷuʔalikʷ dxʷʔal ti dxʷləšucid – 3

23 April 2013

In addition to the talks at the Fourth Annual Lushootseed Language Conference already mentioned, there were two other workshops:

  1. “Cordage-Making: Transforming Plants into Bracelets, Necklaces, or Rope” given by Melinda West, and 
  2. “Language Revitalization: Retaining tradition and culture in contemporary times” given by Chad Uran and Jamie Valadez

The conference also featured a corner with Lushootseed (lut) materials for sale, some of which were given away in a raffle.

Separately, attendees brought copies of the mammoth Klallam Dictionary and Sahaptin Dictionary (“First Klallam language dictionary revives ancient Native American tongue,” see also Klallam (clm); “Yakama Elder Keeps Her Native Language Alive“), incredible works of lexicography. Also found among the attendees was “Tiinmamí Tɨmnanáxt,” (Legends of the Sahaptin Speaking People), a collection of legends on CD each told in Sahaptin (yak) and English.

One other treat for conference-goers was a tumbler with “dxʷləšúcid” (Lushootseed) printed prominently in the proper Lushootseed letters, a must-have for coffee-loving Puget Sounders and other linguaphiles. As far as I know, this is a collector’s item only, unavailable anywhere, but perhaps you can convince Lushootseed Research to sell you one if any are left in stock!

dxʷləšúcid tumbler

Development of a Māori-English dictionary of legal terms

13 July 2012

Te Kaupapa Reo-a-Ture or the Legal Māori Project was established in 2008 to develop a glossary of legal terms in Māori (mri) and English to aid Māori speakers. The dictionary is scheduled to be issued at the end of this year.

During the term of the project, an interesting turn in New Zealand linguaculture has occurred: The  Waitangi Tribunal of New Zealand announced that the Crown has become Māori, a “reality” that must be grasped.

Read more in “Making a Legal Dictionary for an Indigenous Language: The Legal Maori Dictionary.”

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.

Chinuk Wawa dictionary published!

23 May 2012

When people who speak different languages come together, they develop a somewhat systematic way of talking referred to as a pidgin language. If that pidgin is adopted as a regular way of speaking and children learn it as a native language, the pidgin becomes a creole. (Thus, “Pidgin” spoken Hawai’i is actually a creole language, not a pidgin.)

In the Pacific Northwest region of the US, a pidgin called Chinook Jargon (chn) developed in the Columbia River area and spread in the areas now known as Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. It is debated whether Chinook Jargon existed before European contact, but it flourished in the contact period, and Chinook Jargon has lent words to English.

At some point, Chinook Jargon underwent creolization in the Grand Ronde Community, and survived while 27 native languages perished during the termination era.

In the 1970s, Chinook Jargon was taught in Grand Ronde, and in the 1990s, the language was renamed Chinuk Wawa with a new vision. Today, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde have preschool and kindergarten classes in Chinuk Wawa, and offer adult and family language learning opportunities as well.

As reported in the Seattle Times, a new Chinuk Wawa dictionary (presumably bilingual with English) is available. Titled in full “Chinuk Wawa / kakwa nsayka ulman-tilixam laska munk-kEmtEks nsayka / As Our Elders Teach Us to Speak It,” it is 494 page long and was compiled by the Chinuk Wawa Dictionary Project. It can be ordered from the University of Washington Press.

TLex Suite Giveaway

21 May 2012

To celebrate the tenth-year anniversary of the start of their professional lexicography software suite, TshwaneDJe Human Language Technology is giving away free dictionary software and dictionaries, in all worth thousands of euros. Included in their giveaway are:

To learn more about their drawings, including other prizes, see TLex 10th Birthday – Free Giveaways and Upgrades. The drawing runs until midnight UTC, 27 May 2012 and is open to businesses and individuals alike.

English teacher writes a Jaqaru dictionary

14 May 2012

The On Location series by news company GlobalPost won a Peabody award in 2011.

Posted on 10 May, Alexander Houghton’s video “On Location: Peruvian Indigenous Group Fights to Save Their Dying Language”  highlights the situation of Jaqaru (jqr), a language spoken in Tupe and Catahuasi, Peru, not far from Lima.

With many Jaqaru moving to Lima and the recent arrival of television and mobile telephony, the language is quickly losing to Spanish. One of the people featured (her name is mentioned rapidly in the video) is a native speaker of Jaqaru who has written the only dictionary of her language, but even her own son speaks Spanish. Today, there are about 700 speakers of Jaqaru.

According to “M.J. Hardman — Noticias,” the Jaqaru alphabet was developed by MJ Hardman and Dimas Bautista Iturrizaga by 1961, and according to the video, it was officially accepted last year.

Hope dim for True Voice’s prospects

13 April 2011

The language Nuumte Oote, meaning True Voice, is spoken by only two people, one 69 and one 75. And they do not talk to each other.

Known to us as Tabasco Zoque, or Ayapaneco (zoq), the language was not listed on the English Wikipedia until today. The Spanish Wikipedia has a stub article on the language as well.

Spoken in Tabasco, a Mexican state bordering Guatemala, Ayapaneco was spoken by around 8000 families around a half-century ago, but rapidly diminished after a highway was constructed and many residents moved to larger towns. (Could it be that there are isolated Ayapaneco speakers in other regions somewhere?)

As part of the effort to save Ayapaneco, classes were held in the past, but the initial enthusiasm was not maintained. The Instituto Nacional de la Lengua Indígena (National Indigenous Languages Institute or INALI) is planning on one last attempt to get classes going.

Daniel Suslak, a linguist at Indiana University, Bloomington, in the US has been compiling a dictionary of Ayapaneco which is scheduled for publication later this year. That project is in conjunction with the Project for the Documentation of the Languages of Mesoamerica (PDLMA).

This article was inspired and informed by “Language at risk of dying out – the last two speakers aren’t talking” on the Guardian and “Mexican Indian Language Appears Headed for Extinction” on the Latin American Herald Tribune.

Addition: See also “Dying Language Speakers Won’t Talk To Each Other” on NPR for a short audio clip.

Bodéwadmi, Keepers of the Fire

9 April 2011

Potawatomi (pot) is a language spoken in the Great Lakes region and Kansas in North America. It is spoken by the Potawatomi, who call themselves the Bodéwadmi, which means “Keepers of the Fire.”

According to the Ethnologue, there are 1250 speakers in Canada and 50 in the US. The APWAD blog says there are less than 20 in the US.

Along with the Algonquin, Nipissing, Oji-Cree and Odawa, the Potawatomi are an Ojibwe people, and one of the interesting aspects of Ojibwe culture is the use of birch bark scrolls, known as wiigwaasabak and mide-wiigwaas. These scrolls have complex glyphs (writing symbols), though according to Wikipedia, not much is known about them due to their secret nature.

Many resources are available for learning Potawatomi.

This post was inspired by “Endangered Language: Potawatomi” on the (sometimes outrageously funny) Languages Hell Yeah blog, and the many links in “Potawatomi language” on the Pokagon blog.

Halq’eméylem class offering

23 March 2011

According to “New language course available to all ages” on the Agassiz Observer site today, Halq’eméylem (as Halkomelem (hur) is known in the Upriver dialect) classes will be offered to people of all ages after spring break, which ends next week. The classes will be offered at the Agassiz Centre for Education (ACE) in Agassiz, British Columbia, Canada.

As of 2000, there were a little more than 200 speakers according to the Ethnologue report. “Cowichan elder keeping the language alive” on the Cowichan News Leader site cites 278 speakers, though interviewee Luschiim says that number is too high.

Also, according to Luschiim, true knowledge requires knowing not only your own family but the family and kinship of others, a demonstration of how language and culture are closely intertwined, and an example of how it is important to maintain language to ensure culture can continue.

To learn Halkomelem, try Tatul’ut tthu Hul’q’umi’num’, a nine-course series including pictures and audio. To type in Halkomelem, see the Language GeekDictionary of Upriver Halkomelem is available from University of California Press for USD 90/GBP 62, and the e-book version is available for USD 72.