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When Native Tongues Go Silent. Idaho State Moves Toward Solutions
Submitted by MeAndG on Fri, 03/30/2012 - 5:27pm.
Yigaquu osaniyu adanvto adadoligi nigohilvi nasquv utloyasdi nihi
(May the Great Spirit's Blessings Always Be With You)
Ea Nigada Qusdi Idadadvhn
(All My Relations In Creation)
Wakan Tankan Nici Un
(May the Great Spirit walk with you)
Ho! Mitakuye Oyasin
(We Are All Related)
"Languages around the world are disappearing at a fantastic rate, especially indigenous languages in areas where European nations took control," - Beverly Klug, Idaho State University education professor.
According to Marianne Mithun, author of The Languages of Native North America, there are languages with no clear distinction between nouns and verbs, and languages that can give tense and conditionality to adjectives. We have languages that use different pronouns for a 'we' that includes the person being addressed, and a 'we' that excludes that person.
How can we retain a record of people here on Earth who have created alternative linguistic structures that are even more unfamiliar to English speakers? How can educators open minds to the astonishing variety of ways human verbal communication can be categorized and organized?
I first met Beverly Klug in 2004 when I began a stint of teaching for four years at Idaho State University. We had a vibrant exchange on topics from literature in the classroom to the rampant discrimination against Native Americans that was evident in Southeast Idaho.
That is why I was delighted to see her as one of the organizers of a "Symposium on Indigenous Languages: Retention and Revitalization," geared to increase discussion and awareness of the issues concerning indigenous language loss, April 10-12 in the Rendezvous Complex Suites A-C.
The symposium's original speaker lineup has changed and the schedule below reflects those changes. Reservations for the April 11 luncheon need to be made by April 3 to Rebecca Clover at 282- 2629 or firstname.lastname@example.org before April 3.
• Tuesday, April 10, 9 a.m. – noon and 1:30-4 p.m., speakers include Christine Sims, Pueblo of Acoma, "Importance of Indigenous Languages Revival and Retention"; 7 p.m., film on Wampanoag language efforts followed by discussion.
• Wednesday, April 11, 9 a.m. – noon, speaker Marianna Di Paola, Director of the Center for American Indian Languages at the University of Utah, will be discussing the work being done regarding revitalization of Shoshoni and the need for doing so; noon luncheon, speaker Sky Hopinka, a member of the Hochunk Nation and Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, on "Language Loss and Effects on Culture"; 1:30 – 4 p.m., Hopinka will speak on a new methodology being used to teach the Chinuk Wawa language to tribal members; 7 p.m., film on Hawaiian language revitalization efforts followed by discussion.
• Thursday, April 12, 9 a.m. – noon, Michael Fillerup, supervisor, English as a Second Language in Flagstaff, Ariz., schools will discuss Navajo Immersion schools/bilingual education programs and "How to start a successful language preservation program in 10 easy steps" (both the morning and afternoon 2:30-4 p.m. sessions); 1:30 p.m., the children from Candy Titus's language and cultural classes at Lillian Vallely School in Blackfoot/Fort Hall will share their Native culture with audiences followed by reading of a Shoshoni story by Drusilla Gould; 7 p.m., Panel discussion by members of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes concerning their language retention and revitalization efforts.
Languages around the world are disappearing at a fantastic rate, especially indigenous languages in areas where European nations took control, according to Beverly Klug, ISU education professor and a symposium organizer. The idea that every indigenous person should speak only the language of those who were now in power had its beginnings in the doctrine of "Doctrine of Discovery," which gave power to the Church and European monarchs over the lands and peoples of non-Christian countries in the service of the Christian God.
The symposium is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a state-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit www.idahohumanities.org for more information on the Idaho Humanities Council.
Other sponsors include the ISU College of Education, ISU College of Arts and Letters, Department of Anthropology, the ISU Office of Research, and the ISU Cultural Affairs Council.
Additional members of the symposium committee are Christopher Loether, ISU anthropology professor; Drusilla Gould, Shoshone-Bannock Tribal Member and senior lecturer, ISU Department of Anthropology; and Sherice Gould, Language and Cultural Preservation Department Manager, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
Literally hundreds of tongues are still spoken only by a handful of aging people; hundreds more have gone silent. This symposium is Highly recommended to anyone interested in linguistics, and a must-see for any conlanger.
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