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N|u, South Africa (N|u language)

The N|u language (the vertical bar | represents a click sound) is endangered today because N|u speakers were forced to speak Afrikaans (a language related to Dutch). Three N|u speakers (|Una Rooi, Andries Olyn, and Hanna Koper) discuss their language. What do they say that indicates how language loss is also a loss of one's culture, history, identity, and soul?

 

Voices from Taiwan (Thao language, Pazih language)

In Taiwan, speakers have abandoned Thao and Pazih to speak Mandarin Chinese. A couple, Kilash and Ishuz Ehnawanan, who still speak Thao to each other at home, are interviewed. What do they say about the attitudes of young people towards the language?

The sole remaining speaker of Pazih, Kim-Giok Phoan is shown. What questions would you like to ask her if you could interview her?

 

Archiving for Speakers and Linguists
(Nijmegen, The Netherlands, and Berkeley, California)

The Netherlands

The Documentation of Endangered Languages Project (http://www.mpi.nl/dobes) in the Netherlands hosts the largest archive for endangered languages in the world. For linguists, this archive is "a place to compare languages from around the world with just the click of a mouse." Ulrike Mosel and Stuart Robinson discuss their research on the Teop and Rotokas languages of Papua New Guinea. Viewers learn that languages reveal historical information.

California

The University of California, Berkeley runs a week-long "Breath of Life" workshop (http://www.linguistics.berkeley.edu/Survey/bol_report.html) for Native Americans whose languages have few or no speakers. Linguists are paired with the Native American participants to help them learn the language of their ancestors. Workshop participants gain a basic knowledge of linguistics and the phonetic alphabet, which linguists use to describe the sounds of the world's languages. This alphabet helps participants read linguistic studies of their language and pronounce sounds in their language that do not occur in English. Workshop director Professor Leanne Hinton says, "At the end of the week, people who are the descendants of the last speakers are actually saying meaningful sentences in the language".

 

Reviving the Myaamia Language (Miami language)

The Native American language Miami was "said to have gone extinct when its last speaker died in the early 1900s," but it continues to be used today due to the language revitalization efforts of Daryl Baldwin (Director, Myaamia Project (http://www.myaamiaproject.org/)) and others. How does a summer camp help create new speakers of Miami?

With revitalization efforts, endangered languages can live on. According to Daryl Baldwin: "To the descendants of that last speaker: Continuity is broken, yes, and that continuity is important. But for the people who are to live on, it's not the end." Do you agree with this statement?