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#406 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 06:36

 

I found out that we're in the International Year of Indigenous Languages
 
Does anyone here speak any? Or ever considered learning one? 
 
I know that here in the UK it's difficult enough to get people interested in a mainstream language. But I think it's so important to raise awareness of the many languages we are on the verge of losing.
 
I am learning one of the surviving dialects of Ainu (indigenous to Japan/Russia). It's a very different experience to learning mainstream languages- actually more fun because there's no expectations of fast results or progress checks/exams! 

 

Presumably that includes Welsh and Erse. I couldn't justify it unless I were living where it was spoken. Even with the official languages. I've given up going on holidays - too expensive and too exhausting. I could live in Japan or Greece or wherever for 2 or 3 years, but go there for 2 or 3 weeks? No thanks.


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#407 Sylvette

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Posted 13 July 2019 - 14:46

If Welsh does count, I would very much like to learn it.  Despite the Welsh half of my family all speaking English in my parents' generation, most of them now speak fluent Welsh and I would like to join in!  I went on a short course and did OK, but I found it difficult to do an online course without a tutor because of all the differences between the language spoken in the North and the South.


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#408 Tortellini

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 11:05

 

I found out that we're in the International Year of Indigenous Languages
 
Does anyone here speak any? Or ever considered learning one? 
 
I know that here in the UK it's difficult enough to get people interested in a mainstream language. But I think it's so important to raise awareness of the many languages we are on the verge of losing.
 
I am learning one of the surviving dialects of Ainu (indigenous to Japan/Russia). It's a very different experience to learning mainstream languages- actually more fun because there's no expectations of fast results or progress checks/exams! 

 

I am learning the dialect of the Italian city where I live which is quite different to Italian. It is not easy to learn as my husband, despite being born here, never used it (considered "common" at the time!) My children don't speak it either. I have tried to organize a playgroup / language group at their school to teach the dialect in an informal context but nobody is interested - they all want me to run an English language group instead!


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#409 Norway

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 11:20

I used to live in Cremona - I have a clock with all the times written in Cremonese! smile.png


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#410 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 15:43

 

I found out that we're in the International Year of Indigenous Languages
 
Does anyone here speak any? Or ever considered learning one?

 

 

I do, or at least a little.  I'm a Cherokee Indian (Rogers is a fairly common last name among the Cherokee, despite its European roots), and I speak some of my native language.  My grandfather Rogers passed away when I was maybe four years old, so I didn't get to learn much from him.  I wish he were still around to teach me.  We Cherokees (actually, we call ourselves Tsalagi or Ani Kituwani) are pretty lucky since the great Sequoyah developed a means to write down our language which helped save it from extinction.  (I grew up in a town where Sequoyah lived for many years and worked on his syllabary.)

 

Sometimes I wonder why an Indian like me is teaching Bach, Beethoven and what not.  But I figure music crosses cultural barriers.  I actually have a native drum hanging on the wall above my piano, where I can reach up and grab it in case I need to do some southern-style drumming in the middle of a tough practice session.

 

Wado,

 

Yonv Unegv Rogers


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#411 elephant

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 17:07

 

I found out that we're in the International Year of Indigenous Languages
 
Does anyone here speak any? Or ever considered learning one? 
 
I know that here in the UK it's difficult enough to get people interested in a mainstream language. But I think it's so important to raise awareness of the many languages we are on the verge of losing.
 
I am learning one of the surviving dialects of Ainu (indigenous to Japan/Russia). It's a very different experience to learning mainstream languages- actually more fun because there's no expectations of fast results or progress checks/exams! 

 

I'm learning "gascon" which is the dialect of occitan that we have in my part of south-west France. My wife was born and raised down here but, like other posters on this subject, didn't learn it from her parents/grandparents as it was considered too unladylike. Fortunately, it's undergoing a strong revival..." 


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#412 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 15 July 2019 - 17:29

I'm learning "gascon" which is the dialect of occitan that we have in my part of south-west France. My wife was born and raised down here but, like other posters on this subject, didn't learn it from her parents/grandparents as it was considered too unladylike. Fortunately, it's undergoing a strong revival..." 

 

I spent a few weeks in Montpelier once and was told one or two words and where they came from. I can't remember any longer which dialect pronounces it (vin) "vemme" and which "vengue".

 

I used to have an Argentinian girlfriend who refused to teach her daughter Spanish. It's tragic. I've got no idea why - she didn't hate Argentina, and she loved Spain. Nowt as queer as folk.


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#413 Invidia

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 12:18

 

 

I found out that we're in the International Year of Indigenous Languages
 
Does anyone here speak any? Or ever considered learning one?

 

 

I do, or at least a little.  I'm a Cherokee Indian (Rogers is a fairly common last name among the Cherokee, despite its European roots), and I speak some of my native language.  My grandfather Rogers passed away when I was maybe four years old, so I didn't get to learn much from him.  I wish he were still around to teach me.  We Cherokees (actually, we call ourselves Tsalagi or Ani Kituwani) are pretty lucky since the great Sequoyah developed a means to write down our language which helped save it from extinction.  (I grew up in a town where Sequoyah lived for many years and worked on his syllabary.)

 

Sometimes I wonder why an Indian like me is teaching Bach, Beethoven and what not.  But I figure music crosses cultural barriers.  I actually have a native drum hanging on the wall above my piano, where I can reach up and grab it in case I need to do some southern-style drumming in the middle of a tough practice session.

 

Wado,

 

Yonv Unegv Rogers

 

 

I'm very interested in writing systems so I have heard of Sequoyah. I know that some Siberian people like the Itelmen and the Nivkh adapted the Russian alphabet to preserve their languages, but what I've seen of the Cherokee syllabary looks far more original. Are older relatives the predominant means of Cherokee learning their native language? Or are there education programs etc.?
 
It's also interesting to hear how people combine cultures, like you say with Bach and native drumming. There was a PhD student at my old university who was a classically trained singer working on indigenous language revitalisation!

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#414 Gordon Shumway

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 12:26

Be aware that there are great differences between a syllabary and an alphabet. Alphabets always have somewhere between 12 and 30 letters; syllabaries always have somewhere between 50 and 80 syllables. (all numbers off the top of my head for want of a better memory). Above syllabaries come sign systems like the Chinese. I've forgotten the generic name for them. Linear B was a syllabary.


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#415 Dr. Rogers

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 14:28

Invidia, the story of the development of the Cherokee syllabary is quite fascinating.  Supposedly it started with the equivalent of a bar bet - one of Sequoyah's friends insisted that writing was "white man's medicine" (with medicine in this sense meaning something more like magic).  Sequoyah agreed that literacy was powerful medicine, but he believed that anybody could do it.  He worked on it for years and years, including while he lived in Titsohili (modern-day Fort Payne, Alabama, where I grew up not three miles from where the great man had lived).  Some of the more superstitious thought he was doing witchcraft (defined as using medicine for evil purposes), including his own wife.  But he persisted, and finally developed a unique syllabary with flowing, curly characters.

 

After finally getting buy-in from both eastern and western Cherokee leadership, he went to a print shop to see about getting a set of movable type created.  The price quote was eye-watering.  So he took stock of what characters were available in the movable type at the print shop, and re-worked the syllabary so that existing type could be used (sometimes with slight and inexpensive modifications).

 

The result is the modern Cherokee syllabary, which includes characters from the Latin, Cyrillic, and Greek alphabets, plus some characters that I haven't yet identified.

 

> Are older relatives the predominant means of Cherokee learning their native language?

> Or are there education programs etc.?

 

The government used to have a policy of actively suppressing native languages ("kill the Indian and save the man").  Thankfully the government has reversed that policy!  For many years, it was the elders who taught it.  But many did not want to teach it - thinking that it would be better for the young people to just speak English.  A sizable minority stubbornly held on to it, though, and taught it to the youth.

 

These days, though, there are indeed education programs.  It's taught in schools in parts of Oklahoma and North Carolina.  The Cherokee Nation (the largest of several tribal entities) offers classes for adults who want to learn.  Other tribes have similar programs (such as the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma), often funded by casino proceeds.  (I will not comment on the morality of gambling as I am personally ambivalent to the practice, but the casino revenue has been a real life-saver for many tribes.)

 

As for myself, as a mixed-blood, I straddle two worlds: the white and the red.  Sometimes I feel as if I have two men inside me: a white man and a red man.  I try to take the best of both worlds as much as I can, and this includes the music.  Sometimes I wear a European hat, so to speak, and geek out over Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, etc.  And sometimes I wear a Native hat (sometimes literally; Cherokee headdresses are more like turbans and not the feathered warbonnets that most people think of) and play my drum and sing of the old gods and spirits.

 

I'm actually lucky compared to most of Indians.  I received a good education, got a PhD, have a decent day job, have a concert grand piano, have some excellent piano students who respect me and actually practice... Most of us aren't that lucky, even for Cherokees, and we're some of the wealthier Indians.  (Consider the Pine Ridge Lakota Sioux...)

 

Oh, well... probably more than anybody cares to read.  But language (and by extension culture) is a complex topic.  It's made even more complex at my house because the rest of my family is Taiwanese, which introduces even more linguistic issues...


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#416 cestrian

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 04:07

Be aware that there are great differences between a syllabary and an alphabet. Alphabets always have somewhere between 12 and 30 letters; syllabaries always have somewhere between 50 and 80 syllables. (all numbers off the top of my head for want of a better memory). Above syllabaries come sign systems like the Chinese. I've forgotten the generic name for them. Linear B was a syllabary.

 

I'm learning Hindi at the moment. They call their alphabet a 'garland of syllables'. Isn't that amazing!!!?


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#417 Gran'piano

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Posted 19 July 2019 - 13:32

Nothing like as difficult a situation as those referred to in earlier posts with 'different alphabets', but interesting all the same is that of Romansh in the canton of Grisons (Graubünden) in Switzerland.

In addition to the three other official languages, German, French and Italian, Romansh has been accepted as a national  language of the country since 1938 and as an official language for Romansh speaking citizens (about 45,000 of them) since 1996.

The catch is that not only are there several ways of spelling the language (Romansh is sometimes also spelled Romansch, Rumantsch, or Romanche, rumantsch, rumàntsch, romauntsch or romontsch), there are also five idioms - Sursilvan, Sutsilvan, Surmiran, Putèr, and Vallader each of which has its own written language. In 1982 a single variety of the language called Rumantsch Grischun was 'invented' to unite them, which version, of course, no-one likes.

 

Romansh is taught as first language in Romansh speaking areas, but sadly, for higher education or many apprenticeships the children go away from the area and fail to return. As in many other countries, the villages may 'die' as there is a lack of jobs for highly qualified folk there, so no young families take root, the school closes, and the shop.. and as the elderly folk die, the language may die too. Steps are being taken, but whether they will be successful in the long run is anyone's guess.


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#418 corenfa

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Posted 20 July 2019 - 16:06

I found out that we're in the International Year of Indigenous Languages
https://en.iyil2019.org/

Does anyone here speak any? Or ever considered learning one?

I know that here in the UK it's difficult enough to get people interested in a mainstream language. But I think it's so important to raise awareness of the many languages we are on the verge of losing.

I am learning one of the surviving dialects of Ainu (indigenous to Japan/Russia). It's a very different experience to learning mainstream languages- actually more fun because there's no expectations of fast results or progress checks/exams!


I speak an odd dialect of Malay mixed with a Chinese dialect that not many people do, because my mum's family is from that ethnic background. Even now, the sound of that dialect spoken is soothing and reminds me of being in the village in the evening where people sat around and talked under the breeze of coconut trees because there was little else to do. I didn't live there, but we went to the village every summer during the school holidays.


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#419 Gran'piano

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 16:33

These posts are fascinating - and I'd quite like to know how it functions with selection of vocabulary folk on here are learning. Each culture, physical area, life-style, age group, has its own 'language' and the words don't always exist outside this area. They are almost impossible to translate. As small children we may learn most of our words from our parents and if few people still speak a language and there is little communication with other groups, this might be where the language as a whole, gets poorer and eventually disappears.
Just for fun - friends who live in a farming area here, with no family in the land and no other English speakers around, have passed on 'their' vocabulary to their children. The lad, about three years old, toddles in and says that he would like a hexagonal biscuit. -er yes. Come again. His mother is a mathematician and this, for her, was the simplest way of differentiating between these biscuits and the others. That lad 'speaks English' but is going to have a whole lot of fun using this sort of language when one fine day he goes shopping in England.
It could even be that if he asks for them in a shop in Switzerland and is told that they are Haferflocken Biscuits, he'd get the idea that ‘Haferflocken‘ (oatmeal) means hexagonal.

.


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