February 21, 2010

Olympics broadcast in Native languages

Native voices bring Olympics home

Play-by-play commentary in aboriginal languages a labour of love, creativity

By Paul Watson
There is no word for seconds in the Mohawk language, which makes it especially difficult to call the action in an Olympic ski race live for television.

Tiorahkwathe Gilbert was the first among his people to broadcast Olympic men's super-G in his native language Friday afternoon.

A rookie to sports commentary, he has spent months training for the landmark moment. He's had long discussions with elders in coffee shops and at kitchen tables to agree on the best way to express things the Mohawk haven't had much cause to say before.
And:For the first time in Canadian history, the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network is providing play-by-play commentary of live sports in Cree, Mohawk, Ojibway, Dene, Inuktitut, Michif and Oji-Cree.

Most of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit broadcasters calling the Winter Olympics action for APTN are rookies recruited from communities across the country and trained by veteran sportscaster Jim Van Horne.

Van Horne's dulcet voice is familiar to fans of hockey on TSN. He has also broadcast from the Calgary, Sydney and Beijing Olympics. During the Vancouver Games, he's working from APTN's Winnipeg studios, mentoring the aboriginal broadcasters he coached.
Comment:  As with singing pop songs in Inuktitut, this may be the best way to preserve Native languages. Namely, by using them in everyday life. By employing them in the popular culture. By linking them to fun, engaging subjects such as music and the Olympics.

Below:  "Tiorahkwathe Gilbert, a commentator with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, broadcast the Olympic men's super-G event in Mohawk." (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

February 18, 2010

Preserving Inuktitut with pop music

Popular music a way to preserve InuktitutA conference on northern languages in Iqaluit has ended with some participants urging territorial governments to use popular music as a way of promoting and preserving Inuktitut.

The Nunavut Language Summit examined ways in which music—and not the traditional throat singing or other ancient forms of entertainment—can help younger Inuit connect with their culture.

"Definitely, I think Inuktitut can be preserved through poetry, through songwriting, through every kind of writing there is," Juno award-winning performer Susan Aglukark, who sings in both English and Inuktitut, told CBC News.
Nearby Greenland proves this approach can work:Canadian delegates have cast an eye towards their neighbours in Greenland where young Inuk dance in clubs to lyrics in Kalaallisut, the Greenlandic language.

There are two major music labels on the island which boast music in the Greenlandic language from many genres: rock, hip hop and soul.

Local performers such as Chilly Friday and Nanook are treated like celebrities.

February 16, 2010

Printing books with Cherokee syllabary

Books to be printed in Cherokee syllabaryThe newest addition to Southwestern Community College's Oconaluftee Institute of Cultural Arts is actually a very old technology: a letterpress that will be used to print books in the Cherokee syllabary.

“We are bringing back the Cherokee history in true art form,” said Luzene Hill, OICA program outreach coordinator.

Years ago the Eastern Band published a newspaper called Tsa la gi Tsu lehisanunhi, or the Cherokee Phoenix. This first Native American newspaper was printed on a hot-type letterpress in which each word was put together by hand, combining individual metal letters or characters.

Through a $68,846 grant from Cherokee Preservation Foundation and a $47,792 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, OICA will purchase a metal press and develop a print-making studio at its facilities on Bingo Loop Road in Cherokee.

February 12, 2010

Indian sign language endangered

Forum explores cultural language

By Kyle Turner Davis said NAISL was an alternate sign system that was conventionalized and distinct from other forms of communication. It is separate from gesticulation that co-occurs with spoken language and was used for hunting, rituals and other practices observing silence.

When asked if NAISL was created specifically for deaf people, Davis supported the possibility due to the historically higher percentage of hearing impaired among Native Americans. He said it has spread and evolved over time to become a complete language for others and not just the deaf.

Unlike monastic or occupational sign systems, NAISL is much more complex, Davis said.

Records indicate 12 language families and 40 spoken languages among the Native Americans but approximately only seven spoken languages in four linguistic families remain.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Indian and American Sign Languages.

February 01, 2010

Web-based language tools

The Web Way to Learn a Language

By Eric A. TaubWith the growth of broadband connectivity and social networks, companies have introduced a wide range of Internet-based language learning products, both free and fee-based, that allow students to interact in real time with instructors in other countries, gain access to their lesson plans wherever they are in the world, and communicate with like-minded virtual pen pals who are also trying to remember if bambino means baby.

Learning a language sometimes seems as difficult as dieting. The solution is to figure out how to stay interested after the novelty wears off.

To counter boredom, online language programs have introduced crossword puzzles, interactive videos and other games to reward users for making progress.

Online courses are either fee-based, free or a combination. Starter kits of fee-based programs may cost just a few hundred dollars, but the cost to reach higher levels of comprehension and speaking can easily be $1,000.

Charter school teaches Ojibwe

Growing charter school teaches with culture, language

By Dan GundersonThe school Web site hosts video language tutorials produced by third-graders.

Kent Estey runs the media center, a small room crammed with computer equipment. He said the language videos are one way to connect the school with the community.

"So we have students actually teaching their parents and reminding their grandparents of the Ojibwe language that is lost," Estey said. "Technology is a wonderful tool."

The students also publish their own books and they just started a weekly podcast.
Below:  "Murals highlighting important traditional cultural events fill a wall in the school gym in Naytahwaush, Minn." (MPR Photo/Dan Gunderson)