September 21, 2007

Trying to save Washo

A final say?  They hope notLast year, Yu received a $160,000 federal grant to compile an online dictionary of 5,000 Washo words and phrases, complete with digitally recorded pronunciations by Dick and other Washo elders. Scheduled to be finished in 2009, the dictionary is designed partly as a tool to help younger Washos learn the language--even if just a few words, such as da'aw (Lake Tahoe), gewe (coyote) and gu'u (maternal grandmother).

"It's going to be lost, I think, if nobody tries to teach them," Dick said of Washo, which had no written form until 20th century scholars began transcribing it phonetically. "If the young people could learn, maybe they can tell their children down the line a bit that it's important to our tribe. Because we are not a very big tribe."

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