Alaska gov. signs bill to recognize indigenous languages

The move makes Alaska the second US state, after Hawaii, to officially recognize native tongues
October 24, 2014 9:00AM ET
In a symbolic move aimed at bolstering tribal efforts to save Native American tongues at risk of dying out, Alaska’s governor on Thursday signed a bill to officially recognize the state’s 20 indigenous languages.

The extinction of languages represents a significant cultural loss for indigenous peoples, because certain concepts and worldviews cannot be expressed without traditional terminology.

“Alaska native young adults and students throughout the state have demonstrated remarkable success in revitalizing Alaska Native languages,” Gov. Sean Parnell, a Republican, said in a statement. “This bill reinforces that effort and recognizes the vibrant, existing Alaska Native languages of the state of Alaska.”

Access full article below:

First Nations languages will not survive if English is the be-all

by Gerry Georgatos
August 24th, 2014 AUS

First Nations languages will not survive if English is pushed into every region of this continent as the be-all end-all. Languages and language restoration academics and linguists argue that the loss of one’s mother-tongue or that of their parents is the loss of a significant part of their identity, and they argue that this could lead to the death of culture. Some argue that the push for English and the neglect of first languages are old-school racism.
Many experts say that the first languages of each region should be taught in their schools. The East Arnhem’s Yalmay Yununpingu, an educator who is fluent in her region’s several languages said that the “bush languages must be taught in our schools by our bush teachers.”

“The Education Department needs to support our bush teachers and the retention of our languages and to stop getting in the way of this.”

“Our children are sky-high literate in our languages even if they are not in English. If we teach in our languages our students will do very well.”

Access full article below:

Who will teach our* languages?

AUG 27, 2014 9:48AM

More and more Australians are embracing the idea that our first languages should be taught in schools. Faced with high levels of language endangerment and loss, everyone’s hoping for a quick fix. John Hobson takes a look at what works and what doesn’t. The conclusion: it’s a complex matter. Language teaching requires not only time and hard work but, most of all, well-trained teachers.

​Access full article below:​

Song about alligator helping women reconstruct dead language

Aug. 24, 2014 ​

In a dead language on a tape 40 years old, Elvira Billiot sings a children’s song about an alligator.

Last year, a great-granddaughter Elvira Billiot never met heard “Chan-Chuba” for the first time and felt an immediate connection to the ghostly voice and her people.

“When we played it, it was like we were unlocking a trunk that had been locked up and covered in dust,” said Colleen Billiot.

The alligator song could help resurrect the Houma language that has not been spoken for a century. Colleen Billiot and another Houma descendant, Hali Dardar, also 25, have spent the past year trying to translate the lyrics to “Chan-Chuba” in hopes that they can translate that one song as a first step in reconstructing the language.

“It’s this tiny connection to your ancestors that you haven’t had in 100 years where you were able to speak,” Dardar said. “Just having that bond is pretty cool and pretty strong.”

Access full article below:

Linguists record endangered Indigenous Goldfields language Tjupan in bid to save it

By Rebecca Curtin
Updated 24 Aug 2014, 4:14pm

A linguist from Yale University is recording an endangered Indigenous language in Western Australia’s Goldfields region in attempt to stop it from dying out.

​Access full article below:

Indigenous languages won’t survive if kids are learning only English

AUTHOR Jane Simpson

The question of what language(s) to teach Indigenous students, what languages to teach them in, and how to go about it has been generating a little political heat (but not quite so much light) of late…

Indigenous languages won’t survive if Indigenous kids don’t have the opportunity to speak their native languages at school. AAP
The question of what language(s) to teach Indigenous students, what languages to teach them in, and how to go about it has been generating a little political heat (but not quite so much light) of late.

On ABC’s Q&A earlier this month, Yalmay Yunupingu – the widow of Yothu Yindi front man Mandawuy Yunupingu – asked a pointed question about how the teaching of Indigenous languages will be funded given that Article 14 of the United Nation’s Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People states that Indigenous children have the right to education in their own language. And a recent piece in The Conversation by Stewart Riddle sparked controversy after he said it could be argued that the emphasis placed on English literacy was no better than discredited historical attempts to make Aboriginal kids more “white”.

Access full article below: