November 21, 2011

Ojibwe home movies

New home movies resurrect endangered Native American language

Educator develops multimedia tools to share, preserve Ojibwe language.

By Science NationMon

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Hermes is combining the skills of native speakers with video technology to help others, young and old, learn the language in the most natural way. She's doing it by videotaping short movies of everyday situations, from going to a rummage sale to planting a garden to helping out a sick relative.

"Because Ojibwe isn't spoken on a regular basis, there's not a store or a rummage sale or a resort, but part of what we're doing is trying to re-envision what that would be like," explains Hermes.

"So imagine if Ojibwe was the language of commerce, the language of everywhere you went; everything you did was in Ojibwe," she says.

"What we are hoping is that you hear it in an everyday way, [with phrases like] 'tie your shoes,' 'get up,' 'hey mom what's for breakfast,'—that kind of informal speaking ... that's not necessarily correct formal grammar, but the way you would speak it," she says.

Once those short movies are transcribed by native speakers, they are combined with vocabulary lists, pronunciations, and interactive games to create educational DVDs.

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