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.

1 comment:

Rob said...

For more on the subject, see:

Scientist lives with endangered tribe to save disappearing language

"The threat of global warming to their traditional hunting life has left the Inughuit believing that their current settlements will not be here in 15 years' time, that people will relocate southwards, and will assimilate into a broader Inuit culture," wrote Leonard.

Working with the last handful of storytellers, Leonard wants to document their stories and narratives in the old Inuktun language in the hope that this will act as a record of their unique culture. Rather than writing a dictionary, he is building an "Ethnography of Speaking," to show how their language and culture are interconnected and how their knowledge and sociocultural experiences are transmitted through these spoken traditions.