Archive for the ‘Alaska’ Category

Value of Indigenous Languages – a film

18 July 2012

Here is a film by Kathleen Meckel titled “Value of Indigenous Languages”:

See the original with links to other videos by DVworkshops at Value of Indigenous Language A Film by Kathleen Meckel.

Aleut revival flatlining

31 May 2012

Trailing away from the southwest corner of Alaska are the Aleutian Islands that stretch out in a large, curving arc. Off their tip lie the Pribolof Islands, and northwest of the main section are the Commander Islands.

Aleut (ale), also known as Unangam Tunuu, is spoken on all of these islands, but despite revitalization efforts, the language is languishing. The Ethnologue cites 300 speakers as of 1995, which had halved by 2007 according to Wikipedia.

St. Paul is an island and city in the Pribilofs, and the language situation there is the topic of a news story, “Unangan Community Struggles to Save Language.”

This blog post was inspired by “Movement to save a dying Alaska language struggles,” which also notes that Senate Bill 130 passed into law on Monday (see “Alaska Native Language Council bill awaiting signature” on this blog).

Alaska Native Language Council bill awaiting signature

6 May 2012

According to “Bill looks to boost knowledge, awareness of Native languages,” a bill for creating an Alaska Native Language Council has passed the Alaska Senate and House of Representatives, and awaits only a signature from the governor to become law. The governor is expected to sign. The bill is known as Senate Bill 130 and House Bill 254.

ANLC announces focus groups

5 May 2012

The Alaska Native Language Center (ANLC) has announced two new focus groups, one centering on language revitalization and the other on language contact and change. The groups are planning to meet monthly beginning this fall.

Useful information on the ANLC page includes Gary Holton’s “Mapping Alask’s Native Languages” and Lawrence Kaplan’s “Inuit or Eskimo” with information on whether to use the term Inuit or Eskimo (and why Eskimo is sometimes considered derogatory).

Advisory Council Discussed in Juneau

1 February 2012

Yesterday, the Alaska State Senate heard testimony on Senate Bill 130, which would create an advisory council for the preservation and revitalization of Alaskan languages.

Titled “An Act establishing in the Office of the Governor an advisory council for the preservation, restoration, and revitalization of Alaska Native languages,” the proposed law appears to have no parallel version in the House.

See “Senate hears strong support for Native language council” and “Alaska Native Language Preservation Council legislation” for more information.

Aesop and Tlingit

19 May 2011

The great storyteller Aesop lived in Greece more than 2500 years ago. Among his stories is “The Town Mouse and the City Mouse,” in which two mice visit each other’s homes respectively in the country and the city. The city mouse finds the simple fare of the country mouse unappealing, and the country mouse finds the danger of the city unworthy of the fine food.

According to “Children’s book aims to save dying Alaskan language” on the Guardian website, that classic tale has been reworked into Tlingit (tli) with bears instead of mice. Also according to the article, this is the first English book to be translated into Tlingit.

Titled “Aanka Xóodzi ka Aasgutu Xóodzi Shkalneegi,” the book is written by Ernestine Hayes and illustrated by Wanda Culp. The publisher is Hazy Island Books.

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.

From the blogosphere

19 April 2011

From Endangered Languages Media Watch: Post “Elar’s David Nathan writes for The Mark” — “We’ve come a long way in documenting the 90 per cent of languages facing extinction, but rescuing them is another story.”

From Talking Alaska: Post “Commission on Alaska Native Languages” — Meeting tomorrow in Anchorage.

Snippets – Kawe, PNG languages disappearing, Inupiaq revitalization meetings

28 January 2011

A short article on the Huffington Post “Kep Wayag, Raja Ampat Indonesia” by James Morgan tantalizingly mentions Morgan and company documenting folk tales in the language Kawe (kgb). According to the article, Pak Lucas Ayello is the elder of Saweo Village who they were recording.

According to some sources, the Smithsonian Natural History Museum sent a team from the US to Papua New Guinea (PNG) from January 13-22. The team found that PNG languages are disappearing quickly. See “PNG language diminishing” on the Pacific Islands News Association. PNG is well known as a rich area for language diversity. The Ethnologue lists 841 languages on PNG, with 830 having speakers.

According to the Arctic Sounder, the Inupiaq Language Strategic Planning group currently has a series of meetings scheduled in Kotzebue, AK, to discuss Inupiaq (ipk) revitalization. According to the Ethnologue, Inupiaq is a term covering two varieties, North Alaskan Inupiatun (esi) and Northwest Alaska Inupiatun (esk). The meetings are open to the public.