Archive for the ‘games’ Category

What is Gegawewamingo Miniss?

13 September 2011

Answer: Stockton Island.
Question: What is Gegawewamingo Miniss?

Answer: Bear.
Question: What is makwa.

So goes Ojibwe Jeopardy, a game invented by Ojibwe park rangers David and Daniel Grooms. As all language learners know, the acquisition of vocabulary is a long, painful process, and a wide range of activities can make learning more fun.

The article “Citizen Dave: St. Scholastica students fight to keep the dying Ojibwe language alive” in the online Isthmus talks about efforts of the Grooms brothers to learn and revitalize Ojibwe, along with a brief history of efforts by the US government to eradicate the Ojibwe language.

Ojibwe (oji) is a macrolanguage with eight dialects according to Wikipedia, and seven according to the Ethnologue. The variety spoken on the Red Cliff Reservation is Chippewa (ciw). Of 720 first-language speakers of Chippewa, one is on Red Cliff, and of about 75,000 second-language speakers, 50 are on Red Cliff–according to Wikipedia (and my calculations).

Hopefully Ojibwe Jeopardy will inspire people to increase that number, and the Red Cliff Band has language classes and resources (Objibwe Language) to help as well.

Word Search Generator

10 April 2011

A word search is a type of puzzle where there are letters in a grid. You search for a list of words within the grid. Generally, words can run in any direction, but only straight.

Wordsearch has a free tool for generating these types of puzzles.

Many languages use characters not found in the standard English alphabet, and I found Wordsearch can handle them, so I tried making a puzzle from Mi’kmaw or Mi’kmaq (mic) words found on the First Nations site. Mi’kmaw has the l-bar or Ɨ character. The puzzle worked!


It seems that the puzzle generator uses only the characters found in your word list. Many other word search generators randomly use letters of the alphabet, which makes it obvious if you have special characters.

Word searches are great, of course, for learning vocabulary as you have to concentrate on the spelling of the word (and probably pronouncing it to yourself) as you search. Don’t hold your breath, but you have to click the magic button to get the answer key! The key is stored on the Wordsearch site, though whether your puzzles are public or not is something you get to decide.

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.

Luiseño on Nintendo under Development

11 March 2011

The Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians has made a USD 50,000 grant to develop video games for Luiseño (lui). The purpose of the games is be to encourage people to learn and use the language.

The software will run on Nintendo game devices and is planned to be ready by fall. The cartridges for the devices are being created by Thorton Media, Inc. (See also blog post RezWorld Demo – Task-based Language Instruction.)

Information for this blog entry primarily from “San Marcos: Video games to help teach native language” on the North County Times website.

RezWorld Demo – Task-based Language Instruction

5 March 2011

Thorton Media, Inc. (TMI) creates tools for indigenous languages in Canada and the US. They are the company behind the Tsalagi or Cherokee (chrlanguage app for the iPod/iPhone (see earlier post) and also produce the Language Pal for the Nintendeo DSi (a handheld video game machine).

Alelo is a company that makes interactive 3D video games, the sort where you play a character and interact with computer (or other human) characters.

Together, they have created a pilot for a game to learn languages in an interactive setting. It uses a task-based approach, where the player/learner is given a task to do and uses the target language to complete the task. The concept is that by creating a world that has game qualities, the user will forget they are in a learning environment and instead strive to learn the language while having fun. Named RezWorld, the pilot is in Cherokee and draws on on-rez life.

The game is planned to have as many as 12 levels and is intended to be customizable for any language. TMI is currently seeking a group interested in creating the first full version. The basic price is USD 300,000 for one level and $1 million for a complete set. Once the first game is complete, the price would drop dramatically, with packages estimated as low as $250,000 for a full game.

In addition to a dictionary, grammar explanations and translations, the game would include, as an example:

  • 40 skill building lessons with an aim of at least 1800 vocabulary words
  • 100 dialogs
  • 1000+ exercises and quizzes
  • 1900+ lesson pages
  • 9 Game scenes

To learn more, see their FAQ. To inquire about RezWorld, an iPhone/iPod app, DSi application or other application in your language, see their contact page.