Archive for the ‘United States’ Category

High school senior revitalizing Salish

11 May 2013

Vance Home Gun, a high school senior, created an organization named “Yoyoot skwkwimlt” to promote Salish, also known as Montana Salish (fla). Read an interview with Gun in “Language Preservation Made Vance Home Gun a Champion for Change.”

Opposition to lottery system for kindergarten in Hawai’i

11 May 2013

As outlined in “Pūnana Leo,” the introduction of the language nest in Hawai’i, using Hawaiian as the medium of instruction, faced many legal and social hurdles. According to the ʻAha Pūnana Leo website, there are now 21 immersion schools in Hawaiʻi, educating about 2,000 students from preschool through twelfth grade.

Educating keiki, or children, in Hawaiian has become so popular that in Pāʻia, they ran out of space in the program. With space for 40 children, applications were received for 53 children. Pāʻia Elementary School decided to hold a lottery to decide which children would be admitted.

But the idea of a lottery is opposed by Nā Leo Kākoʻo O Maui, a not-for-profit organization that supports Hawaiian language immersion. According to Kaheleonolani Dukelow, an organizer for a demonstration against the lottery, a lottery would never be held to determine which children are given an English education, and so it isn’t right to hold a lottery for Hawaiian education.

Read more in “Hawaiian Immersion Lottery at Pāʻia School Postponed.”

Resources: US tribal colleges/universities and revitalization

8 May 2013

Laura Paskus has compiled a list of books and articles about language revitalization. See her “24-4 Summer 2013 “Language Revitalization” Resource Guide” on the Tribal College Journal of American Indian Higher Education site. The article includes a link to a map of tribal colleges and universities in the US.

University of Arizona June Courses: Taking Language Home

6 May 2013

Between 3 and 28 June, the American Indian Language Development Institute at the University of Arizona is offering seven courses aimed at helping people document, learn and maintain languages.

The offerings are:

    1. Where Are Your Keys by Evan Gardner,
    2. Community Language Archiving by Shannon Bishoff,
    3. Creating Linguistic Products for Native American Languages by Colleen Fitzgerald,
    4. Teaching Indigenous Language Through Traditional Ecological Knowledge by Teresa Newberry,
    5. Topics in Native American Linguistics by Luis Barragan,
    6. Language Immersion and Acquisition in the Home and the Community by Jennie DeGroat, and
    7. Revitalizing Spiritual Traditions by Phil Cash Cash.

Promotional video by Evan Gardner:

Promotional video by Phil Cash Cash:

 

Languages with only one speaker

28 April 2013

According to “World’s 18 most endangered spoken languages,” there were 18 languages listed in the UNESCO Atlas of Endangered Languages with only one speaker in April 2010. (Thanks to LoL for the link to this article.)

According to the Atlas, there are now 19, but in many cases, the Ethnologue has different information. The languages listed in the Atlas with only one speaker are (by continent):

Africa

1. Bikya (byb) – the Ethnologue says there are no speakers

2. Bishuo (bwh) – the Ethnologue says there are no speakers

Asia

3. Pazeh (uun) – the Ethnologue says there are no speakers

North America

4. Patwin (pwi)

5. Tolowa (tol)

6. Wintu-Nomlaki, or Wintu (wnw) – the Ethnologue says there are no known native speakers

Oceanian, including Indonesia

7. Dampelas (dms)

8. Lae, or Aribwatsa (laz) – the Ethnologue says there are no speakers

9. Laua (luf) – the Ethnologue says there are no speakers

10. Volow (mlv) – the Ethnologue lists this and Dagmel as dialects, each with one speaker

11. Yarawi, or Suena (sue) – the Ethnologue says there are 3,600 speakers

South America (other than Brazil)

12. Chaná – it appears to not be listed in the Ethnologue (gqn appears to be different); (qs1 – Linguist List code)

13. Pémono, or Mapoyo-Yabarana (pev)

14. Taushiro (trr)

15. Tinigua (tit) – the Ethnologue says there are two speakers

16. Yaghan, or Yagán (yag)

Brazil

17. Apiaká (api)

18. Diahói, or Parintintín (pah)

19. Kaixána, or Kawishana – it appears to not be listed in the Ethnologue; (qsw – Linguist List code)

Kiowa – language nesting at home

24 April 2013

According to the Ethnologue, Kiowa (kio) had 400 speakers as of 2007. According to “Modina Waters using children’s story book to keep Kiowa language alive,” there are only 100 fluent Kiowa speakers, and Modina Waters has created a bilingual book for children.

To promote language use, they have a language nest initiative, where people are encouraged to speak Kiowa at home. The Kiowa Kids Language Resource Page includes links to three different dictionaries, a list of words useful for the home, and large-font vocabulary to cut out and use as labels in the home. (Note that the Kiowa Dictionary says that it “is the exclusive domain of Kiowa families.”)

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

sbuusaɫ sqʷuʔalikʷ dxʷʔal ti dxʷləšucid – 1

23 April 2013

sbuusaɫ sqʷuʔalikʷ dxʷʔal ti dxʷləšucid, the Fourth Annual Lushootseed Language Conference, was held Saturday at Seattle University. Titled “šəqild čeɫ ti dxʷsdigʷid ʔi ti xʷdikʷ” (Honoring the Teachers and the Teachings), the conference had something for everyone: language, culture, community, revitalization, technology and more.

A special highlight of the conference was keynote speaker Virginia Beavert, who included in her talk her personal experiences that involved learning Lushootseed (lut) after running away from her Sahaptin-speaking home. Among her advice was that when approaching an elder to get language information:

  1. Say up front what you will do with the information
  2. Give the elder time to consider the request
  3. Explain the importance of developing teaching materials.

Lushootseed teachers Michelle Myles and Natosha Gobin discussed a literary technique used in Lushootseed storytelling along with a recounting of the history of the story “Lady Louse.” They gave out a wonderful booklet that includes photographs of Elizabeth “Lizzie” Krise, a DVD of “Lady Louse” and flash cards for teaching the story.

John La Pointe discussed ties between Puget Salish culture and Christianity, weaving in his personal background.

Zalmai ʔəswəli Zahir discussed how to create a space from which a language can be revitalized.

Deryle Lonsdale discussed the online Lushootseed Dictionary project. It is expected to be available in a few months.

Dave Sienko noted how despite tremendous processing power, smartphones lack full Unicode implementation and so have trouble with the Lushootseed alphabet. As a workaround, the Puyallup Tribe has released Texting Twulshootseed and other apps, which enables the iPhone to text in Lushootseed.

Russell Hugo discussed Moodle, open-source software for educators, as one way to create a community of language learners.

Lushootseed texts are available from Lushootseed Research. Although not currently listed, there are CDs also available.

French in Louisiana (but what sort of French?)

7 July 2012

In the sixteenth century, Spanish explorers began mapping the area now known as New Orleans and the Mississippi River. In the following century, France made claims and set up forts in the area. Control of the area switched back and forth between the two over time.

Meanwhile, up north, French settlers and their descendants resisted Great Britain in Acadia, an area now known as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec. With the Treaty of Paris of 1763, the colonial powers ended the Seven Years’ War and recognized Great Britain as the ruler of Canada.

The treaty also gave Acadians, who refused to sign an oath of allegiance to Great Britain, 18 months to settle elsewhere. Many moved south, all the way down to Louisiana, where the dominant ruler of the time, Spain, welcomed them as fellow Catholics.

In 1800, Napoleon secretly purchased Louisiana (the larger meaning that covers what is many states today) from Spain and sold it to the United States three years later.

The Acadians in Louisiana, known now as Cajuns, have maintained their culture and their language to this day. (See, for example, Rebecca Wells’s novel “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood,” which includes French in the dialogue.)

As is all too common, French-speaking children were punished in Louisiana when the school board made a decision that French would not be allowed in schools. That was followed by a constitutional amendment a few years later which also forbade French in the schools.

In 1968, the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana was established to develop and maintain French. Today, there are immersion programs to revitalize French, but, as elsewhere, it is a difficult battle, and the teachers in the schools teach standard French, not Cajun French (frc). Also, Council’s budget was slashed dramatically last month. Ultimately, the survival of the language depends on the speakers; outside of the classroom, there is not much opportunity or incentive to use French.

Read more in the article “In Cajun land, a reveille to French heritage.”

App for 100+ languages

1 July 2012

The Cherokee app was released for the iPhone in 2010 (see “YouTube video of Cherokee iPhone app” on this blog). Cherokee has a  writing system (Cherokee syllabary) requiring 85 or 86 unique symbols for writing.

Starting in October 2011, FirstVoices has released a series of apps for use on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch:

Each is a free app with educational content.

While the iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch have an easy interface for switching among languages, there are many languages that require characters not available. On 18 June, FirstVoices released their FirstVoices Chat app that provides characters for more than 100 languages spoken in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US.

Also free, the FirstVoices Chat app allows you to set up to seven languages to type in.