Archive for the ‘maps’ Category

Project to document Dusner in the news

23 April 2011

According to “Researchers race to record dying language,” there are three speakers of Dusner (dsn), all 60 or older. They live in a village on the Indonesian province of West Papua, which along with Papua makes up the left portion of the island New Guinea. (Confusingly, the right portion of the island is the country Papua New Guinea.)

The village is located in Fak-Fak Regency (area). The language location is noted in the West Papua tribes map. It is on the right side, above where it says “East Papua.”

According to the Ethnologue, there were six speakers as of 1978. Gapping the 1978 record and this new report, Christopher Moseley’s “Encyclopedia of the world’s endangered languages” notes in 2007 that Dusner was likely extinct.

Fortunately, it is not. With time running out, researchers Mary Dalrymple and Suriel Mofu from the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology & Phonetics at Oxford University are working to document the language. Under the name “Multimodal language documentation for Dusner, an endangered language of Papua,” the project began in October 2010 and is to last 14 months and is a collaboration with the State University of Papua and Cenderawasih University. The project will produce:

  1. digital video recordings, including culturally important stories and conversations;
  2. transcriptions, with free English and Indonesian translations, aligned with the video files;
  3. linguistically annotated texts in two forms;
  4. a glossary of basic words and affixes; and
  5. a grammar sketch.
The Dusner speakers are Emma Imburi (85), Enos Yoweni (60) and Anna Imburi (60).

The Argobba – assimilation in Ethiopia

16 April 2011

The Argobba are one of about 80 ethnic groups in Ethiopia, about 10,000 in number with nearly no monolingual Argobba (agj) speakers. A people skilled at trading, they have adopted major neighboring languages, such as Afar (aar, 1.5 million speakers), Amharic (amh, 17.5 million) and Oromo (orm, 25 million).

As Abebe Kifleyesus writes in “Tradition and transformation: the Argobba of Ethiopia,” the key issue here is that the Argobba are abandoning their ties to their language while maintaining their ties to their culture.

The 1995 Constitution guarantees political representation by all “minority Nationalities and Peoples” (see Articles 54 and 61). However, the Arbogga have many customs similar to the Harari—an ethnicity of 25,000 to 30,000 people who speak Harari (har), a language cousin to Argobba—and were therefore not initially provided legislators in the national houses.

At least two years went by before this error was corrected, and the Argoba Nationality Democratic Organization now has one representative in the lower House of Peoples’ Representatives. More importantly, however, they hold control of the Argobba special woreda, an area that is semi-autonomous due to the ethnic federalism of the country. See this map of Ethiopia for the greater regions. Argobba is in Afar, adjacent to Amhara. This map shows the specific location of Argobba.

While the Argobba have gained political power, whether they will use it or some other means to save their language is a question that has yet to be answered.

See the SILSociolinguistic Survey Report of the Argobba Language of Ethiopia” for information about the Argobba language, including the phonology and a 320-word glossary.

This entry was inspired by “The Argobba: visiting a little-known African tribe” on the Gadling site.

Linguicide and Revitalization

10 April 2011

In “Linguicide: Trends and Revitalization,” op-ed writer Sandeepan Borthakur discusses the decline and rejuvenation of languages.

In the lead of the article, the dormancy of Bo or Aka-Bo (akm) is mentioned. Bo became silent in January 2010 with the passing of the last speaker. See also Andamanese languages for more information on this rich area of human culture.

UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger is cited as listing 2500 languages in five categories of endangerment.

At the end of the article, the author notes that while Assamese (asm) is spoken by 13 million people today, the percentage of people speaking it of India’s population as a whole has steadily declined over the past four decades.

Other endangered languages mentioned in the article are: Cornish (cor), Irish (gle), and Manchu (mnc), which has an interesting alphabet. The two other projects mentioned are the Rosetta Project and the Endangered Language Fund.

PROEL – Language Maps of the World in Spanish

28 February 2011

The Promotora Española de Lingüística (PROEL) is an organization dedicated to promoting minority languages in Spain and the world at large. Registered with the Ministry of the Interior of Spain, PROEL works with the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) and SIL’s Mexican affiliate, the Instituto Lingüístico de Verano (ILV).

Among their projects is an impressive collection of maps, carefully linked by language family in Spanish. For the most part, English speakers should have no trouble navigating the maps. If you have trouble figuring out a name, try entering it in the Spanish Wikipedia, then looking for the corresponding English page from the language links at left.

News in Brief: “The Young Ancestors” Film, LDLT3, Indigenous Language Student Brief, Languages in Columbia

28 February 2011

The Young Ancestors” is a film in progress about a small group of Native Americans who are learning their heritage language Tewa (tew). Currently in the post-production stage, the project is raising funds to complete the film. Inspired by a post Posed on Womanist Musings.

The Website for Language Documentation & Linguistic Theory 3 is now up. With a theme of “‘Empirical methodologies that drive forward theory building,” the conference will be held November 19 to 20 at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, UK. If you can, arrange an extra day, November 18, for the Workshop on Language Documentation and Archiving.

Heritage Languages in America has produced a brief titled “Indigenous Language Students from Spanish-Speaking Countries: Educational Approaches.” Written by Hannah Pick, Walt Wolfram, and Jacqueline López, the brief overviews situations in which Latin American immigrant children in the US transition from their home language to English, losing their native tongue. Contrary to common perceptions, some do not speak Spanish.

In conjunction with International Mother Language Day, the Ministry of Culture of Columbia released a report (English) on February 21 listing five languages as nearly extinct because there are less than 60 speakers. The languages are: Carijona (cbd), PisamiraTinigua (tit), with only one speaker, Nonuya and Totoro (ttk). Of the approximately 70 languages in Columbia, about half have less than 1000 speakers. Inspired by the mini-post at Native Strength and “Five Colombian Indigenous Languages ‘Nearly Extinct,’” a post with a map of Columbia on the Indian Country Today Media Network.

National Geographic Teams with Living Tongues Institute

24 February 2011

National Geographic is collaborating with the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages on their Enduring Voices Project and has a web section devoted to it.

The top starts out with an interactive map, showing areas of the globe with degrees of severity in terms of language endangerment. Based on materials from the LTI, the National Geographic map provides pop-up windows when you click on a language endangered area, providing a profile of the area. Click on a button for more information, and you get a new browser tab filled with a list of the languages, revitalization projects, links and data from the Living Tongues Institute (hosted by Swarthmore College).

Below the map is a description of language endangerment (including the statistic that a language goes silent every 14 days), followed by a series of exciting articles (related features) that bring the world to the desktop in that magical way that National Geographic has. Among the links is a YouTube channel for the Enduring Voices Project, currently hosting 132 videos including hip-hop in Aka or Hruso (hru) and the counting system of Foe or Foi (foi), which goes to 37. Others include an expedition to Chile to research Huilliche (huh) and the discovery of Koro (not yet classified).

The site also includes pages on expeditions, resources and revitalization.

Iñupiaq/Inupiatun (esi)

11 April 2007

Roosevelt Paneak has a glossary of Iñupiaq (esi) words. This language is spoken at the northern extremities of the world, where the word for November means sunset (Nippivik wanes into Siqiñaatchiaq).

This citation is taken from the Tulugaq (“raven” in Iñupiaq) blog by Alaskan (and current Texan) Linda Lanz. Her blog includes an interesting map showing where Iñupiaq is spoken.

Also check out the SIL Iñupiaq online dictionary on the Alaskool site from the 1970 publication Iñupiat Eskimo Dictionary by Donald H. Webster and Wilfried Zibell .

Another good resource for learning Iñupiaq is the website of radio station KNBA, featuring a Native word of the day plus archives!

A special mention goes to The Plants of My People, written by Cheryl Ann Wood/Kylee Bautnuq Punguk, an ethnobotany complete with Native, English and Latin designations and accompanying photographs. This book does not appear to be available for sale.