June 26, 2008

Blackfeet word translations

Blackfeet Language Institute aims at integrating Blackfeet language into school curriculaThe Blackfeet Language Institute was held June 16-18 at the Blackfeet Head Start Multipurpose Room in Browning. The Institute was sponsored through Browning Public Schools' Blackfeet Native American Studies Department, and its main purpose was to develop Blackfeet word translations for classroom use.

A large group of elders, students and educators met June 16-18 a the Blackfeet Early Childhood Center to discuss ways and means of integrating the Blackfeet language into local school curricula.

Terminology in the areas of math, reading, music, technology and science was developed. Among those topics, the hardest content areas to develop were math and music because the Blackfeet language is descriptive so the translations were a bit longer.

June 17, 2008

Emergency language meeting

American Indians work to preserve their languagesIn the Lakota language, a single word expresses the awe and connectedness with nature that some feel looking at the Northern Lights. In Euchee, the language makes no distinction between humans and other animals, though it does differentiate between Euchee people and non-Euchee.

And the Koasati language of Louisiana provides no word for goodbye, since time is seen as more cyclical than linear. To end a conversation, you would say something like: "This was good."
The situation is dire:Can they be saved? Last month, representatives from Indian groups around the country met with linguists and other academics in Philadelphia to see what they could accomplish together.

"We're talking about an emergency situation," said Richard Grounds, a speaker of the Euchee language and co-organiser of the meeting, held at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology.
More unique Native concepts:Some languages, for example, have no way to give directions using left and right, because their speakers navigate with a less self-centred view of the world than we do, said Leanne Hinton, a linguist at the University of California, Los Angeles. They think more in terms of local geography.

Ryan Wilson, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, said the quality his people value most in a man is something like courage, but includes a degree of independence and perseverance. It has no direct English translation, and with the word may go the idea and the reason it once mattered.

Wilson, who is president of the National Alliance to Save Native Languages, said there was also a word that describes the feeling that you cannot live without someone. It is similar to love, but something is lost in that translation.

June 14, 2008

Dream of preserving Quechua

Scholar's not-impossible dream:  To preserve language of the Incas

Demetrio Tupac Yupanqui's translation of "Don Quixote" into Quechua is a landmark in reviving the indigenous tongue.Since the Spanish conquest, important writing in Quechua has emerged, but linguists and Quechua speakers hope that the new version of "Don Quixote" will be a step toward forming a public culture in the language, through Quechua magazines, television and books, that will keep its speakers engaged with the wider world.

After centuries of retreat in the Andes, Tupac Yupanqui's efforts in fortifying Quechua, through teaching and translating, are being complemented by various other ventures.

Microsoft has released translations of its software in Quechua, recognizing the importance of 5 million or so speakers of the language in Peru and millions elsewhere in the Andes, mainly in Bolivia and Ecuador. Not to be outdone, Google has a version of its search engine in Quechua, even if some linguists say that these projects were carried out more for corporate image polishing than for practical reasons.

The workings of Andean democracy are also reminding the world of Quechua's importance. The government of President Evo Morales of Bolivia, for instance, is trying to make fluency in Quechua or another indigenous language mandatory in the civil service.

June 12, 2008

Tulalip worships in Lushootseed

Mass in ancient language celebrates blending of culture and faithWorshippers called, "Peace be with you," and sang, "Lord, send out your spirit and renew the face of the Earth." That was in English.

Then, they struck hand-painted drums made from stretched animal hide. Rhythmic tribal songs in Lushootseed filled the church.

Virginia Jones, 22, read scripture from the New Testament in Lushootseed while dozens of worshippers followed along with English translations in their service books.

Blessings were called out in Lushootseed while Dario MeGuire, 15, played a hand-carved flute. Archbishop Alex Brunett, on hand for the occasion, celebrated the marriage of tribal culture and Catholic faith.

June 08, 2008

"Duck, duck, goose" in Ojibwe

Tribe strives to preserve Ojibwe languageEkdahl, who stepped in following White Pigeon's resignation, said the Tribe received grants from the Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services Program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services for their language documentation project.

"The grant allows for the creation of immersion opportunities by the Anishinaabemowin Club," Ekdahl said.

The club hosts gatherings where people are required to speak in Ojibwe during meal and social situations. Instructional cards were created to generate dialogue.

"We also have a Little Language Warrior Club for 3- to 7-year-olds," Ekdahl said. "The program targets young children and parents."

Ekdahl said the project work has created tools to teach young children, including board games, Bingo and charades translated into the Ojibwe language, which are used during the immersion programs.

"We teach them how to play ‘duck, duck, goose' in the language," Ekdahl said. "The parents have to participate.

June 07, 2008

"Breath of Life" conference

Berkeley researchers go global to document endangered languagesInterest by UC Berkeley students in the documentation of endangered languages and in making the information available to native communities seems to have "taken on a new life," Hinton said.

Technology is at least partially responsible for helping to stimulate this renewed interest, she said, with more and more language archives going online and becoming available to interested parties virtually wherever they may be.

The Breath of Life work is aimed at revitalization, whereas the student research is aimed at documentation of still-healthy, if endangered, languages, said Sharon Inkelas, chair of UC Berkeley's linguistics department and professor of linguistics. The June 8-14 conference and the faculty and student fieldwork represent often complementary research at different stages of the lifespan of a language, she said.
An example of the work being done:Andrew Garrett, a UC Berkeley linguistics professor, is known for his ongoing work documenting California Indian languages. He is running a project that is documenting the Yurok language, developing an archive of Yurok texts and audio recordings, and establishing language resources for the Yurok community. Garrett and his students also have worked with Yurok elders on language teaching. Garrett is creating an online multi-media Hupa language dictionary and documentation and doing related research on Northern Paiute dialects in California and Nevada.Breath of Life for California's native languagesLeanne Hinton, UC Berkeley professor emeritus of linguistics, co-founder of the June 8-14 "Breath of Life" conference and author of the "How to Keep Your Language Alive" (2002) handbook, said that a key goal of the conference is to prepare participants to take their languages home and to help turn learning native languages--as a very first language--into a fundamental feature of Indian childhood.

"The school is great for language learning, but if a community really wants its language to be alive, it has to be using it at home," Hinton said. "The tribes are making progress, and there are people who are teaching it to kids at home."

Home instruction helps children to bond emotionally with their language, according to Hinton, whereas classroom learning reflects a more intellectual and dry approach.

June 01, 2008

Documentary inspires Ioway

Native tongue

Lost language comes to life on screen in new movie[T]ribal members are seeing a resurgence in interest in their Iowa roots—and residents of Iowa are rediscovering an interest in the tribe—thanks to a new documentary featuring the culture of a people struggling to maintain their heritage through the years.

The title of the film—“Lost Nation: The Ioway”—refers mainly to the fact that the people of Iowa don’t know the history of their state’s name. But it also refers to a bond that has been lost among Ioway people—a bond people such as Goodtracks hope to rediscover.