August 25, 2010

Navajo version of Rosetta Stone

Navajo language software hits the market

By Alysa LandryRosetta Stone, creator of the renowned language learning software, on Tuesday released its Navajo version, the first large-scale language revitalization project for the dialect.

Navajo, traditionally an oral language, still is spoken by more than 100,000 people, making it the most common American Indian language north of Mexico.

Yet use and fluency among the younger generations is on a decline with about 50 percent of Navajo age 17 and younger unable to speak their native language at all, according to data from the 2000 U.S. Census.

The software is the result of thousands of hours of work and hundreds of volunteers who provided expertise, photos, audio recordings and cultural support to the project.
Rosetta Stone Endangered Language Program Releases Navajo Language Software

Language-Learning Provider Helps Promote Native American Language Use among Younger GenerationsRosetta Stone Inc., a leading provider of technology-based language learning solutions, announced today the release of the Navajo-language version of Rosetta Stone(R) software for use by Navajo in language revitalization. Though Navajo is the most-spoken Native American language north of Mexico (still spoken by more than 100,000 people), its use and fluency among younger generations is in dramatic decline. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 50 percent of Navajo ages 17 and under were able to speak their native language at all in 2000. Rosetta Stone Navajo software will be available for use in Navajo Nation schools, homes and chapter houses in an effort to help reverse this decline.

"We're excited that the Rosetta Stone Endangered Language Program can play a role in encouraging younger generations to use the Navajo language," said Marion Bittinger, manager of the Endangered Language Program. "We're optimistic our work with indigenous groups will be a step toward reversing the tide of global language extinction."
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Rosetta Stone Releases Chitimacha Language and Software for Learning Navajo.

August 24, 2010

Berenstain Bears cartoons in Lakota

Berenstain Bears help keep Lakota language beating

By Sarah ReineckeSoon, the popular Berenstain Bears cartoon characters will help bring the Lakota language to life in homes across the region.

Twenty episodes of the animated cartoon series will be translated, recorded and broadcast on South Dakota Public Television starting in the fall of next year, with all dialogue in Lakota.

It's the first time in the United States that any cartoon series has been translated to a Native American language and widely distributed, said Wilhelm Meya, executive director of Lakota Language Consortium, a nonprofit organization that partnered with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to co-produce the Lakota version of the series.

A DVD and teacher's guide also will be released next summer to be used in area schools.

August 20, 2010

15th year of Lushootseed camp

Camp bolsters reawakening of Lushootseed language

By Bill SheetsJones looked around the Kenny Moses Building on Tulalip Bay on Thursday and saw dozens of tribal children learning words and phrases in Lushootseed, the original language spoken by Salish tribes in the Puget Sound basin.

The children were split into groups at an annual camp in which they learn the language and culture through songs, drawing, painting, weaving, an old printing press and even a Nintendo DSi.

"I'm really proud of them doing that," Jones said. "It's just great."

The camp is in its 15th year. About 200 children ages 5 through 12 sign up for the camp each year, said Natosha Gobin, a language teacher for the tribes.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Lushootseed in Public Schools and Tulalip Language Camp.

Below:  "Stan Jones, a Tulalip tribal leader, recalls how kids were once punished for speaking Lushootseed. 'Soap in the mouth,' he said."

August 13, 2010

Linguist to spend year in Greenland

Scientist lives as Inuit for a year to save disappearing language

By Thair ShaikhA British anthropologist is setting out on a year-long stay with a small community in Greenland in an ambitious attempt to document its dying language and traditions.

Stephen Pax Leonard will live with the Inughuit in northwest Greenland, the world's most northernmost people, and record their conversations and storytelling traditions to try and preserve their language.

The Inughuit, who speak Inuktun, a "pure" Inuit dialect, are under increasing political and climatic pressure to move south, says Leonard.

"They have around 10 to 15 years left in their present location, then climate change and politics will force them to move south, and they will be assimilated into a different culture, into a broader community, and their way of life will be lost," Leonard said.

August 06, 2010

Indian sign language conference

First Indian sign language conference in 80 years will be held in August

By Pam HughesRepresentatives from seven tribes will convene on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation Aug. 12–15 for the first hand talkers’ conference held since 1930.

The conference is an important part of a National Science Foundation funded project led by Dr. Jeffrey Davis of the University of Tennessee, Dr. Melanie McKay-Cody (Chickamauga Cherokee/Choctaw) of William Woods University and James Woodenlegs (Northern Cheyenne) to document hand talkers from Northern Cheyenne, Assiniboine, Sioux, Crow, and several other tribes.

The mission is to preserve Indian Sign Language through the cooperation of sign language linguists with deaf and hearing members of the North American Indian signing communities through research, video recording and a dictionary.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Indian Sign Language Endangered and Indian and American Sign Languages.