February 21, 2009

Atlas of dying languages

New atlas shows dying languages around the worldIn a presentation Thursday of a new world atlas of endangered languages, linguists stressed the list is not restricted to small or far-flung countries. They also sought to encourage immigrants to treasure their native languages.

"Language endangerment is a universal phenomenon," said Christopher Moseley, an Australian linguist who edited the atlas' third edition, which is to appear in digital and paper versions.

The atlas says 200 languages have become extinct in the last three generations, and another 199 languages have fewer than 10 speakers left.

More than a fourth of the 192 languages once spoken in the United States have disappeared. Another 71 are severely endangered, according to the atlas.

February 16, 2009

Ojibwe Language Weekend Pow Wow

American Indian Studies Ojibwe Language Weekend–“Ni’Shin!”The Michigan State Department of Linguistics & German, Asian, Slavic, and African Languages, The American Indian Studies Program, and the North American Indigenous Student Organization sponsored and organized the weekend event “Learning and Living the Language” which created an environment where students and community members could be immersed in the Ojibwe language. As language Professor Helen Roy communicated on the event flyer, “it is our duty and our inherent nature as Anishinaabeg to preserve the language of our ancestors.”

The Pow Wow which was held at a local community center meeting room was done completely in the Ojibwe language. Third year Linguistics Student Autumn Mitchell read aloud two stories in Ojibwe while a projection screen on the wall projected artful illustrations of the storyline. Autumn has been a student of Helen Roy’s language teachings since Middle School. Autumn read two stories “When you Give a Mouse a Cookie” and my favorite “When you give a Mouse a Drumstick.” Already with extensive language training for her age, Autumn will be graduating in a year and a half and will be able to utilize her skills in continuing the legacy of promoting the language.