Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for Language Diversity


We've explored the issue of endangered languages with a few books, mainly Mark Abley's Spoken Here. Travels Among Endangered Languages and Daniel Everett's Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle, recognizing language preservation as an important part of our shared cultural heritage. I recommend taking some time out from turkey and football over the long weekend to watch We Still Live Here (via PBS Independent Lens) about the efforts of a group of Wampanoag in Massachusetts working to revive their language over 100 years after the last native speakers died. The film will add new layers to your understanding of the cultural exchange between this tribe and the Pilgrims that we celebrate at Thanksgiving. Be sure also to explore the recommended Our Mother Tongues interactive website, to learn more about other Native American languages.

Hey, I'm not finished with your Thanksgiving assignment yet! Another excellent documentary available for online viewing from Twin Cities Public Television, First Speakers: Exploring the Ojibwe Language was a recent Upper Midwest Emmy winner. The film is narrated by another author, and language student, we love, Louise Erdrich (Tracks). The Ojibwe have the advantage of native elders who speak their language to guide them as they seek to develop immersion curricula for their schools. Both films are fascinating!
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