Posts Tagged ‘language revitalization’

A YouTube Channel as Part of an Ecosystem – Old English

2 November 2015

Old English (ang) is the oldest form of English (eng), one that developed when Germanic tribes settled in Great Britain around the fifth century. As a convenience, OE is considered to have given way to Middle English (enm) in 1066 when William the Conqueror successfully invaded Great Britain, making French (fra) the language of the rulers and resulting in a mixture of French and OE. (There are scholars who take the view that Middle English derives instead from Scandinavian languages resulting from the Viking incursions.)

Although the grammar is very different from Modern English, because many of the core words are the same or similar, Old English is relatively easy for English speakers today to learn, and interest in OE has grown in recent years.

Among the resources available are an OE version of Wikipedia, which includes terms for modern concepts and things created to fit the OE vocabulary. For example, Modern English is called “Nīwenglisc” and an automobile is called a “selffērende wægn.” Also, among the thousands (or tens of thousands) of vocabulary sets on Memrise (a computer flash card website/mobile app) is an Old English set of 86 words with sound.

Another resource is YouTube channels, where a channel is a sub-webpage on YouTube providing videos, playlists, discussion and other information. One is Leornende Eald Englisc (Learning Old English), a channel created by Kevin with nearly 700 subscribers. Although his channel is now dormant, his subscribers have left messages encouraging him to come back when his alternative reality (real life) is less stressful.

With more than a year of videos posted, Kevin has created playlists, which are groupings of videos classified by topic such as pronunciation and discussion. Creating videos can be labor-intensive due to the preparation and editing required, which often discourages YouTubers. Many of Kevin’s videos, however, such as those in the Old English Pronunciation Guide and Old English Pronunciation guides are merely three or four seconds, which shows how easy it can be to make useful additions to a video collection without a lot of work.

Another of his playlists is Discussion, which has three videos on: whether OE is Scandinavian, how Kevin became interested in OE, and reviving OE as a living language.

YouTube also provides links to other OE YouTube channels, and Kevin has links to his Facebook and Twitter pages.

Kevin’s project shows how videos can provide information, and how playlists can make it easy to develop a number of areas of linguistic interest, creating a node in a linguistic revival ecosystem with crosslinks to build the community.

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“We Are Our Language”

3 July 2012

Published last year, “We Are Our Language: An Ethnography of Language Revitalization in a Northern Athabaskan Community” is a volume by Barbra A. Meek, associate professor of anthropology and linguistics at the University of Michigan.

According to the book’s page,

The process must mend rips and tears in the social fabric of the language community that result from an enduring colonial history focused on termination. These “disjunctures” include government policies conflicting with community goals, widely varying teaching methods and generational viewpoints, and even clashing ideologies within the language community.

The language that is the focus of the book is Kaska (kkz), a language spoken in the Yukon Territory and British Columbia. According to a review by Patrick Moore in last fall’s edition of Anthropological Linguistics, the book discusses how focusing on elders in revitalization alienates younger speakers.

Google previews of the book are available at “We Are Our Language.” The table of contents are:

  • Ruptured: Kaska in Context
  • Endangered Languages and the Process of Language Revitalization
  • Growing Up Endangered
  • Manufacturing Legitimate Languages
  • “We Are Our Language”: The Political Discourses of Language Endangerment
  • From Revitalization to Socialization: Disjuncture and Beyond
 This book is the part of a series titled “First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies,” a collaboration of four university presses.

Poet returns to revitalize Mojave

20 June 2012

Author of “When My Brother Was an Aztec,” poet Natalie Diaz is a winner of the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and the Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction and received honorable mention in the War Poetry Contest. And now, 16 years after moving off-reservation, she has returned to revitalize the language of her heritage, Mojave (mov).

According to the Ethnologue, there were 75 speakers in 1994, so the task ahead will be difficult.

Read more about Natalie Diaz in “On a Mission for Preservation, Poet Natalie Diaz Returns to Her Roots.”

The Center for Endangered Languages Documentation

2 June 2012

The Center for Endangered Languages Documentation, or CELD, is located in the Universitas Negeri Papua in Papua, the Indonesia part of New Guinea (the eastern portion is Papua New Guinea). With some 250 speech communities in Papua, CELD is dedicated to working with communities and document language, training linguists and providing support to individuals and agencies.

Two projects currently in progress are:

CELD was founded in 2009. One of its priority areas is the Yapen languages (family), which include Woi.

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.

Review of “Telling Stories In the Face of Danger” and Kumeyaay

21 May 2012

In “BOOKS: Can language preservation battle be won?,” Richard L. Carrico reviews “Telling Stories in the Face of Danger: Language Renewal in Native American Communities,” published earlier this year by the University of Oklahoma Press.

Edited by Paul V. Kroskrity, professor at UCLA, the paperback is a compilation of stories, commentary on the stories and academic discourse.

The offerings include a piece by Margaret Field, a professor at San Diego State University working to revitalize Kumiai. Listed as Kumeyaay (dih) on Wikipedia, this language is listed by the Ethnologue as having 330 speakers. Although controversial, many break Kumeyaay into three languages: Ipai (dih-ipa), Kumeyaay proper and Tiipai (dih-tiidih-tip), with the number of speakers ranging from 25 to 200 for each. Eight Kumeyaay lessons by Field and others are available on the website of San Diego State University’s Language Acquisition Resource Center.

Language revitalization in California

10 May 2012

At least traditionally. California is the most linguistically state in the United States. Casey Capachi, a reporter at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, posted a video titled “Native American language revitalization” on YouTube yesterday. The video documents the spirit of the people learning and using their living languages.