Archive for the ‘videos’ Category

Video by Dana Corn

24 April 2013

Dana Corn makes the case for revitalizing languages in the video “Endangered Language Project” and includes mention of the Endangered Languages Project.

“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.

Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre testifying for palawa kani

24 May 2012

In what appears to be part of the inquiry by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs into incorporating Aboriginal languages into the school curriculum (see “AU government hears how children light up when learning Yawuru“), a committee meeting was scheduled for today in Tasmania.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre was expected to provide testimony on the state of palawa kani and how the national government is failing in its obligations to protect Aboriginal languages.

Without an ISO three-letter code and not listed in the Ethnologue, palawa kani is a reconstructed language, recreated from at least six local languages once spoken in Tasmania.

According to the Wikipedia article, the language was born in 1999. According to “palawa kani mapali [Tasmania],” the language was spoken in a presentation in Hawai’i that same year. According to “‘Language of the Month’ palawa Kani,” in 2005, a CD titled “pakana luwana liyini: Aboriginal Girls Sing” was released, featuring songs written by young local Aboriginal girls. It was produced following a CD two years earlier.

Also see “Dewayne singing Tasmanian Aboriginal song,” with a video of Dewayne Everettsmith singing in palawa kani about the connection to the land. Perhaps his sweet tones could be used to charm the Australian government!

(Capital letters are not used in palawa kani; the capital “K” in the Wikipedia article is due to a programming requirement that all Wikipedia articles begin with a capital letter.)

Revitalizing the languages of Okinawa

23 May 2012

The Ethnologue lists 15 languages in Japan. Ainu (ain) is spoken in the north by an estimated 15 people, Japanese is the national language, and Korean is spoken by an estimated 670,000 people (1988). Japanese Sign Language (jsl) is also spoken by about 315,000 people.

The other 11 languages are in the Ryukyuan family, located in Okinawa, a 1,000-kilometer-long archipelago of hundreds of islands extending from southern Kyushu to Taiwan.

The Ryukyuan languages are related to Japanese, but the connection is distant. Nevertheless, for social reasons, Japanese people (including Okinawans themselves) often refer to Ryukyuan languages as mere dialects of Japanese.

Enter Byron Fija, a half-Okinawan, half-American. Proud of his ability to speak Okinawan (ryu), also known as Central Okinawan or Uchinaaguchi, he teaches the language in an effort to maintain and revitalize it.

Read more in “Okinawans push to preserve unique language.” Also, “Okinawans Try to Preserve Dying Language” has part of that article with English subtitles/subtitles (after the opener), plus a video and more links.

The other languages listed in the Ethnologue with estimated populations are:

Wikipedia does not have articles on all of these languages. See the article Amami language for languages without a link.

Videos for eight languages on Gadling

18 May 2012

Gadling, which bills itself as the “world’s top travel blog,” published a post today on eight seldom-heard languages. Each has a YouTube video to watch.

The languages include:

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.

Movies of daily life invigorating Objiwe

21 November 2011

New home movies resurrect endangered Native American language” by Science Nation. Mary Hermes takes movies of daily scenes to help speakers expand their vocabulary.

Texting and rapping in endangered languages

2 July 2011

According to “Hip-hop, texting may help save world’s languages” on the Miami Herald website, teenagers who love to send text messages by mobile phone are doing so in endangered languages, giving renewed hope for revitalization. Languages cited include:

    • San Francisco del Mar Huave (hue)
    • San Mateo del Mar Huave (huv)
    • San Dionisio del Mar Huave (hve)
    • Santa María del Mar Huave (hvv)

In addition, hip-hop music has become a vehicle for expression in endangered languages, including:

See “Huilliche hip-hop song 1” and “hip-hop in Aka – Songe Nimasow” on the Enduring Voices channel of YouTube for two rap songs.

Assyrian Dictionary Complete

14 June 2011

After nine decades of work, scholars have completed the 21-volume “Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.” Although the set can be purchased for USD 1995, it is also available free of charge to download (with restrictions on use).

A language whose literature includes the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” Old Akkadian (akk) was spoken between 4500 and 4000 years ago, after which scholars consider the language to have broken into two dialects: Old Babylonian and Old Assyrian. These continued to develop, disappearing about two thousand years ago. The dictionary project covers all known stages of the 2600 years of the language.

Running about 9700 pages in length (not including the front matter), the dictionary includes 28,000 words, a number perhaps comparable to the number of unique words Shakespeare used.*

As with the Oxford English Dictionary, the plan for the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary Project was ambitiously wide in scope and the expected time to compile grossly underestimated. The database used to compile is nearly two million file cards, and the dictionary will surely be recorded as one of the greatest accomplishments of scholarship.

Will Assyrian/Akkadian be brought back to life as we see with Latin, Old English, Sanskrit and other ancient languages?

The article “Dictionary of dead language complete after 90 years,” one of the sources for this blog post, includes a short audio clip of Irving Finkel speaking Akkadian. The Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, has a series of recordings, including many of the “Epic of Gilgamesh.”

John Heise maintains a site on Akkadian, including grammar lessons, where he suggests tuppi bitim “home clay tablet” as the word for “home page.” The 1961 edition of the text Old Akkadian Writing and Grammar by I.J. Gelb can be downloaded as a PDF. The 1881 “A Sumero-Akkadian grammar” by George Bertin is also available for download.

Also, YouTube videos can assist in learning to write the language, such as “You Can Write in Akkadian, Lesson One” by GiskAkina:


Because no people today claims descent from the ancient Akkadians and no language exists that descends from Akkadian, it seems unlikely Akkadian will become the target of revitalization. The literature, however, will continue on and the “Assyrian Dictionary” will be a valuable resource for understanding this ancient culture.

* For the number of unique words Shakespeare used, see:

  1. The Man Who Shakespeare Was Not (and Who He Was)” by Charlton Ogburn
  2.  “Shakespeare’s Vocabulary Considered Unexceptional” by zwischenzugs
  3. Shakespeare’s Vocabulary: Myth and Reality” by Hugh Craig (I do not have access to this and have not confirmed the contents)

YouTube video of Cherokee iPhone app

17 May 2011

As mentioned on this blog (Tsalagi on the iPhone), there is an iPhone app that assists with learning Cherokee (chr). Here is a YouTube video that demonstrates the app.

The “ᏣᎳᎩ” on the initial screen of the video is tsalagi or Cherokee, written in that language.

An app is an application that works on a smartphone. A smartphone is a mobile phone with a computer-like capacity and the ability to use the internet (more than conventional mobile phones).