Smartphone apps used to save endangered Indigenous languages

By Felicity JamesOctober 29, 2014, 10:55 am

Indigenous elders in the Northern Territory are trying to save their endangered language using a smart phone app and crowdsourcing software.

Fewer than 100 people speak Marrithiyel, which is part of the Tyikim language group and spoken in regions southwest of Darwin.

Dr Linda Ford’s mother – a Marrithiyel speaker – died in 2007 and asked her to maintain the Tyikim languages.

“That’s one of the languages that we were taught from the day we were born, probably before we were born, because they would’ve been singing to us in their tummies,” the Charles Darwin University research fellow said.

“One of the things that my mother had instructed my brothers and sisters was to make sure that our languages and culture were maintained at the level that she handed them on, before she passed away.

“Not just for the Tyikim people, but for all people, particularly the Australian people, so they know that there are other languages and cultures that exist in this country.”

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Navajo woman undertakes project to document Native American languages and histories

Katherine Locke

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Karen Begay wants to preserve Native American languages from becoming extinct by recording and documenting tribal and family history from tribes across the United States told by elders in their own languages.

She envisions turning her work into an archive titled Native American Oral History that can be passed on to future generations. A big part of the project is capturing the time when the elders grew up, a time that does not exist now.

“We’re letting the people talk in their own languages,” Begay said. “Talk about their history, their family history, their tribe and their culture.”

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Mi’gmaq community works to revitalize language

McGill, Concordia linguists partner to help develop educational tools
Written by Janna Bryson | Visual by the Listuguj Education Directorate
Not all McGill research happens at McGill. Since Fall 2011, the Listuguj Mi’gmaq community has been the site of the Mi’gmaq Research Partnership (MRP), a joint venture between the linguistics departments at McGill and Concordia and the Listuguj community. The project aims to bring linguists, their students, and Mi’gmaq community members together to develop a deeper understanding of the disappearing Mi’gmaq language.

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ABC Radio Is Broadcasting In Two Indigenous Languages Now

By Alex McKinnon 2/9/14

Hey, here’s something happening in Australia that isn’t hideously, hideously depressing: ABC Radio in the Northern Territory has just started a twelve-month trial of broadcasting the news in local Aboriginal languages, and it’s going really well.

News bulletins read in the Warlpiri language, spoken by about 3,000 Warlpiri people in the central Northern Territory, began broadcasting on Tuesday August 5, while broadcasts in Yolngu Matha, an umbrella term for around six mutually intelligible languages spoken by roughly 4,600 Yolngu people in northeast Arnhem Land, started a day later. The news is translated from English by the Aboriginal Interpreter Service, and broadcast by native speakers of each language once a day.

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ILAT Note: The media links to the actual radio programs are dated Sept 1, 2014.

The Future of the World’s Languages

By Eileen Shim September 4, 2014

The news: There are currently 7,000 languages spoken around the world, with one dying off about every two weeks. Now researchers say that 25% of the world’s languages face extinction in the next few decades, and there’s a surprising reason behind it — economic development.

In a new study published Wednesday in the Proceedings of Royal Society B, Tatsuya Amano, a conservation scientist at Cambridge University, took the ecological tracking methods used for endangered species and applied them to languages. Using this methodology, his team identified hotspots where languages were in danger of disappearing, just like animal species are.

What he found was surprising: “Both are seriously threatened, and the distribution of linguistic and biological diversity is very similar,” Amano told Live Science. “Of course languages and species are fundamentally different in many aspects, but I thought I might be able to contribute to this urgent problem — language endangerment — using what I have learnt.”

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Cultural innovation: Languages live at Royal B.C. Museum

Exhibit showcases and helps to preserve the province’s indigenous tongues

By Mark Leiren-Young, Special to the Vancouver Sun August 28, 2014

​“Displays include a language forest where visitors are greeted in all 34 of B.C.’s indigenous languages.”

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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.”

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