Keeping a native American language alive


#1

This is an amazing woman in her 80s who has spent years compiling the first ever dictionary of her Wukchumni language - inspirational!

http://www.ryot.org/native-america-wukchumni-dictionary-language-extinction/855101


#2

Wow — a very moving story and well worth viewing. What a remarkable lady! A great inspiration for anyone else working to keep a minority language alive. Thanks for sharing, Dee — I hope lots of others watch it as well.


#3

Can’t connect to the link, but will try later. There are so very many place names and words in American English which are taken, either directly or indirectly, from Native American languages. However, I’d imagine that that’s no comfort to a people so thoroughly oppressed over the course of the last few hundred years.

There’s a story - probably an urban myth - that the newly minted United States of America voted on which language to have as its official tongue. English, so the story goes, came first with German not far behind. Lets assume for the sake of argument that such a vote took place, and that German had won.

In that scenario, I can’t imagine the assaults - physical, cultural and linguistically - committed against Native Americans by the westward expanding Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika being any less harsh than what actually happened.


#4

I think the article is no more and the server is down. This particular topic was started back in November 2015 so it’s quite possible they’ve closed the site or its part.


#5

Thanks, Tatjana.


#6

I’m also guessing the article and video are no longer available, which is a pity.

We have much the same situation in Australia (where I come from) — many of our place names are from Aboriginal languages, and many of those languages have either died out or become critically endangered. I have dropped a few hints about SSi for Australian Aboriginal languages in another thread or two… :wink:


#7

Getting quite fascinated by this legend (which I’d never heard of before) and wondering how it could have come about, I just did a spot of Googling. Snopes confirms it’s false, but here’s another article that explains further what was actually behind the rumoured “German vote” and how the story got garbled: Was German almost the official language of the US?