A Native American Nation Fights To Save Its Language And Culture

Via ‏@OsgurOCiardha.

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21 comments

  1. But what will happen if those kids decide that they don’t want to live in a trailer park in the middle of nowhere?

    They’d have to move to NY, LA or SF if they want to get a good job in tech industry, for example. And no one speaks their language there.

    1. Jānis, you decided you didn’t want to live in the Baltic, you got up and headed West to seek your fortune using your second language to your advantage. I’m sure that members of the Hupa can do they same in the US 🙂 No one is saying they shouldn’t have the entirely useful advantage of English fluency alongside their native tongue. Or do you argue that the Latvians should abandon their language for much more utilitarian ones like Russian and English?

      1. Their language doesn’t have enough speakers to support people who live elsewhere.

        And as i understand – it’s not even those kids’ native language – the people in that clip spoke perfect american english without any accent.

        So if some of them emigrates to NY or whatever – where is he going to use his 2nd language?

        1. Jānis, they can use it at home, among their own children and pass it on to them if they wish. In addition, those who stay in the Reservation can help it grow. That is the point of the exercise. Saving what is almost lost for the community in the region.

          1. But why would they use it at home if they have English as their first and native language already? That video didn’t even show whether those kids even use the language as soon as they step out of the classroom. (My guess is that – no they don’t)

        2. “Their language doesn’t have enough speakers to support people who live elsewhere”
          ——–
          I don’t quite see what you mean. How many is ‘enough’ ? Does Latvian have enough? Icelandic? Maori? Faroese? Manx? All of the small Pacific island nations?

          As for people who have left their homeland, these days they have the internet anyone can use e.g. Skype.

          I fear you take multlingualism as a given, and perhaps don’t understand the value (and the difficulty) of learning another language from inside the Anglosphere.

          1. Wikipedia says that their language has just one native speaker and 30 L2 speakers. My extended family is bigger than that let alone my hometown. I guess it’s fine to speak with the same 30 people through Skype. But what if I want something more, like, I don’t know, maybe watch a movie or read a book in my native language or maybe read the latest news. Or discuss something on a forum. Or be deceived by propagandists and snake oil salesmen – believe or not, but Russia in fact is investing lots of money to localise its propaganda. 😀
            A language has to have a critical mass of speakers in order to be able to do that.

            Language revivals are fake and artificial. That’s not how real languages start to exist and spread. There wasn’t one guy who taught Latvian to others and tried to convince people to use it. The language evolved from its ancestors over many centuries and was passed on naturally.
            Might as well promote Esperanto or Klingon.

            1. The ‘one native speaker …’ etc. situation was pretty much where Manx was in 50 years ago, but they seem quite positive now about their language having a future.

          2. Manx has NO native speakers and about 150 L2 speakers out of ~84k people. It’s more like a weird hobby than a legit language.

            I see absolutely no reason for 2 people who share the same native language to drop it and speak something else among themselves.

    2. Yeah, unfortunately their language and much of their culture is probably doomed against the forces of the British/Irish/Jewish/American influenced, consumer capitalist monoculture. But don’t worry John, they’ll be in good company, the same thing will happen to everyone else, even smug, head in the sand, people from Latuastonia or whatever it’s called.

      1. Is consumer capitalism at fault that people don’t want to invest real money and resources into their language?

        TV channels in the Baltics are getting foreign investment.

        Where’s the problem getting that for the irish language?

  2. Then they can speak both, and enjoy all the advantages of bilingualism, using English at work and their language at home. I really don’t see why its necessary to only speak English to get a job, rather than to speak English as well as your mother tongue.

    1. If one of your languages is spoken by 30 people then there are no advantages whatsoever. You’re as good as a monoglot.

      1. If only 30 people speak your language then you have a great opportunity, but also a great responsibility to make a significant contribution to that culture. Not a lot of competition if you fancy yourself as Best Poet, or singer, or writer — LOL!

        If your family land had been left to go to waste, someone would have to go in and clear the ground again, like pioneers, so that others could follow. Your attitude is just to wring your hands and say ‘sod it!’ You might at least give some credit to those willing to make an effort, even if you yourself can’t or don’t want to.

        Perhaps you’d feel differently if it was your own language & culture that were facing extinction? Could easily have happened, “There but for fortune …” ? (Perhaps I should declare an interest, some of my ancestors were Manx)

        1. As the saying goes – if you’re the smartest person in a room – you’re in the wrong room.

          And Marconatrix – why should we bother with knock-offs like Manx – If we really want to resurrect dead languages – I think we should go and resurrect the real deal. I propose to drop English, Latvian, Irish and all the other knock offs and go back to the roots and revive the Proto Indo European language instead.

  3. The comments in this blog post are a fascinating glimpse in obstination. One of the main goals of An Sionnach Fionn is the promotion of Gaeilge yet some one keeps on coming here to point out that all efforts to support minority languages are doomed, illogical, and naive. I’m not saying that everyone here should sing from the same hymn but it seems to me that if you think so little of these efforts and can only point out the faults, you are pissing in the wind to a far greater degree than you accuse those of us who work and speak on behalf of minority cultures. It’s like trying to set up a shop in a library to sell your book on the evils of reading.

    1. The biggest problem with Irish language is that it’s disliked and hated not only by some British unionists and people who hate the Irish in general (That’s expected from people like that – I don’t expect Putin to love my language). But unlike most if not all other nations – many people who call themselves Irish patriots ignore, dislike or outright hate the language.

      If the patriots of your nation hate the language – how do you get non-patriots to love it and why should you?

      So far he hasn’t provided a single reason for me to learn Irish.

        1. But who will learn it? You can’t revive a language without getting people to speak it somehow. You can’t have “Irish rights” without hiring people who speak Irish and firing those who don’t.

          If the Irish people don’t want to learn Irish, then i guess the only solution to have “Irish rights” would be to design an Irish speaking AI bot who would deal with weirdos who demand service in that language.

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