For my second entry into the Weblog, working with some of the recommendations made by Professor Marker, I have attempted to focus my searching on the understanding the connection between language, culture and landscape. Also, in keeping in line with the focus on educating with technology, I have worked to find additional examples of ways that Indigenous languages are attempting to be preserved and passed on through using technology.
Last Fluent Stolo Speaker:
This first link is from the Vancouver Sun and the article and accompanying video highlight the efforts being taken to help preserve the Halq’emeylem language. This language is on the verge of no longer having any fluent speakers of it and the article highlights the importance of finding ways to help ensure future generations can become fluent in the language. Some interesting quick takeaways from the article and video are that one of the linguist’s working on preserving the language describes how context and pronunciation are just as important as dictionary definitions. She also speaks in the video about how knowing other languages can have a positive impact on the way you perceive the world.
Language and Identity, Language and the Land – Patricia Shaw
This journal article from Patricia Shaw focuses on how language is a crucial part of identity and culture for Indigenous cultures. She compares the importance and impact of language on Indigenous identities to that of the English language on people who are native English speakers. This comparison is used to show the devastating effects of language extinction on Indigenous communities and how by losing their language it directly impacts their culture. Her article goes on to discuss how individual Indigenous languages have a direct tie to the landscape, and how understanding ones identity is linked to their ancestral language and land. As many Indigenous languages, lands and cultures go unrecognized, either through ignorance or other means, it becomes more challenging for communities to continue to value their heritage and ensure it is passed on to future generations. As Shaw’s article is centered around communities in British Columbia, her message and claims are quite powerful.
“Speaking with names” – Keith Basso
Following one of the recommendations made by Professor Maker regarding my research statement, I looked into the work of Keith Basso. This essay is part of a larger collection titled “Wisdom Sits in Places” and this particular essay focuses on the connection between landscape, places and language among the Western Apache. Within the article, there is a particularly interesting section that details a short conversation between two members of the community. Through their conversation, it becomes clear that places have a unique significance in their culture and that places help connect people to their ancestors and that their language is also directly connected to places. Within the stories that the Western Apache tell, locations and places in which the stories take place are paramount. There is a line that states “Placeless events are an impossibility; everything that happens must happen somewhere”. I think this line in particular signifies the importance of place and land within Indigenous languages and cultures.
Indigenous Language Revitalization TEDx Talk – April Charlo
This TEDx video focuses on how languages are used as a way to help people create meaning and understanding of their world. The speaker goes on to discuss the concept of ownership, and how for some Indigenous communities, this is not an idea that exists naturally in their language. The reference she makes is focused specifically on the natural environment and how it is impossible to own things that occur naturally in the world. For many Indigenous communities, certain concepts were forced upon them and their languages and cultures were forced to adapt to new ideas in order to survive – such as the concept of owning land. The video also highlights the connection between Indigenous cultures, language, and the land by discussing the idea of owning water. For the communities being talked about, water was not something that could be owned but that one had to ask to use. The speaker’s community understood how vital water was to life and did not believe in owning it. The video highlights how languages can have important meanings that go with the words being used and show important connections that different groups can have to certain aspects of the environment.
How Technology is Saving Native Tribe Languages TEDx Talk – Darrick Baxter
This video focuses on how utilizing technology as a way to teach a language, in this case Ojibway, can be beneficial for learners who are interested in technology. The speaker in the video created an app to engage his daughters with learning the Ojibway language after he found that other methods, such as books or audio CDs, were not as successful. The speaker also discusses how the source code for the app was released for other Indigenous groups to use to create their own language apps and how various groups have created apps as a way to preserve and teach their language. Apps continue to show up as ways for languages to be shared and learned. An interesting feature of the Ojibway app discussed in the video (available here – http://www.ogokilearning.com/ojibway/) is that it is designed to work offline so that those living in places without reliable internet connections can still use it.