Le 10 cose principali da sapere sulle lingue in pericolo

di Anna Luisa Daigneault | Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages

tradotto da Martino Dellavedova

In occasione della “Giornata Internazionale della Lingua Madre” dell’UNESCO (21 febbraio) vorrei richiamare l’attenzione su alcune questioni-chiave relative alla scomparsa delle lingue. Con la crescita mondiale del movimento per la salvaguardia e la rivitalizzazione linguistiche si è data una sempre maggiore attenzione mediatica alle lingue in pericolo, e questo è un grande passo in avanti per gli attivisti delle lingue indigene che richiedono un maggiore rispetto e riconoscimento di esse. Ma ci sono ancora molte sfide aperte che gli attivisti devono affrontare. Voglio condividere il presente elenco per aiutare un pubblico più vasto a capire gli sforzi che la rivitalizzazione linguistica richiede, e magari sfatare alcuni miti sorti attorno alle lingue in via d’estinzione, con la speranza di aiutare la gente a capire che cosa significhi la scomparsa di una lingua. Senza aggiungere altro, ecco le dieci cose principali da sapere sulle lingue in pericolo:

10. Dall’inizio del 20esimo secolo le lingue minoritarie hanno ceduto a quelle dominanti ad un ritmo crescente e senza precedenti.

Ciò accade rapidamente soprattutto negli ex-insediamenti coloniali. Tale rapido processo di cambiamento linguistico è collegato agli effetti tuttora in corso della colonizzazione, dell’assimilazione culturale, dell’urbanizzazione e della globalizzazione. Quando si ha una riduzione della varietà locale, ciò provoca l’erosione culturale, la perdita delle lingue minori, e col tempo può portare persino alla perdita dell’identità culturale.

9. Fino a metà delle 7105 lingue esistenti al mondo potrebbero rischiare di estinguersi.

Svariate migliaia di lingue sperimentano attualmente qualche grado di minaccia. E va notato che non sono in pericolo solo molte singole lingue, ma intere famiglie linguistiche rischiano di estinguersi, cosa che sarebbe una perdita incolmabile per l’umanità.

Nell’analizzare il grado di pericolo in cui si trova una lingua, per definirla “salva” non basta basarsi sul numero di parlanti. A volte si trova una lingua che ha un’ampia comunità di parlanti, ma, se la loro età media supera i 50, questo indica che non si tramanda quella lingua ai bambini. È dunque una lingua instabile, e il numero di quelli che la parlano correntemente calerà presto. La lingua potrebbe estinguersi nel giro di una sola generazione o due. In altri casi, invece, il numero di parlanti può anche essere minimo, ma se vi sono abbastanza parlanti per ogni fascia d’età, allora evidentemente la lingua viene trasmessa ai più giovani della comunità e quindi può sopravvivere per più generazioni a venire.

8. Molte delle lingue a rischio non sono mai state registrate né messe per iscritto.

É così. Esistono molte lingue di cui non abbiamo registrazioni audio. Le registrazioni audio ad alta qualità di parole e frasi di una lingua sono uno strumento essenziale per una comunità che non ha molti parlanti “fluenti” rimasti, e che spera di mantenere la pronuncia corretta della lingua anche dopo la scomparsa degli ultimi parlanti, se questo è l’eventuale esito del processo di mutamento in corso in quella comunità. I prossimi decenni saranno un periodo cruciale per la registrazione degli ultimi parlanti delle lingue che si trovano nelle situazioni più critiche, e per supportare i locali attivisti linguistici indigeni che svolgono il grande lavoro di rivitalizzare nelle proprie comunità lingue relativamente meno a rischio e minacciate. Ottime registrazioni audio sono anche essenziali per i linguisti che desiderano analizzare i suoni e l’assetto di una lingua e assistere le comunità nello sviluppo di materiali adatti per la trasmissione di essa.

Inoltre, molte culture hanno tramandato il loro patrimonio per vie orali, senza usare sistemi di scrittura per la trasmissione della conoscenza. Ma il bisogno di un’ortografia adatta nasce comunque, una volta che i parlanti abbiano espresso la volontà che la loro lingua sia insegnata nelle scuole, sia presente nei media e sia riconosciuta a livello statale. In alcuni casi, se il sistema di scrittura viene creato troppo in fretta può non cogliere accuratamente la complessità dei suoni della lingua. I migliori sistemi di scrittura nascono quando collaborano tra loro parlanti fluenti, educatori fluenti e altri specialisti, che impegnano il proprio tempo per trovare un sistema di scrittura ben rispondente ai bisogni della comunità e facilmente trasferibile alle moderne interfacce informatiche. La creazione di buoni sistemi di scrittura, e la tecnologia di supporto che appronti caratteri speciali, richiedono tempo, applicazione, pazienza, coordinazione e denaro per pagare coloro che lavorano a questi progetti.

7. La perdita linguistica accade in quasi ogni paese del mondo.

Sta succedendo accanto a te. Con l’eccezione di paesi monolingue come l’Uruguay (dove molte lingue indigene furono sradicate), la Corea e una manciata di altri, si possono osservare perdite linguistiche nella maggior parte dei paesi del mondo. Chi vive in Canada, negli Stati Uniti o in Australia sarà sorpreso nello scoprire che la perdita linguistica non è solo un fenomeno esotico ma anche locale. Molte lingue delle Prime Nazioni del Canada, dei nativi americani ed aborigene, di cui si è sentito tanto parlare, sono a rischio, a meno che i parlanti abbiano i mezzi e le risorse necessarie per mantenere vive le proprie lingue. Anche nel caso dell’Europa ci sono molte lingue locali minoritarie di varie regioni che rischiano di scomparire.

Pur essendoci lingue a rischio quasi in ogni paese, va notato che il cambiamento linguistico non è distribuito equamente nel mondo, e si possono individuare dei “punti critici linguistici” (Language Hotspots), vale a dire le dense aree del pianeta che hanno il livello più alto di diversità linguistica, i gradi più alti di pericolo e le lingue meno studiate. Tali “punti critici” sono i luoghi in cui una documentazione linguistica è più urgentemente richiesta nell’epoca attuale.

6. Le lingue minoritarie sono una componente importante del patrimonio culturale immateriale dell’umanità.

Nel nostro mondo vario e multilingue, le lingue sono una fonte di ricchezza culturale. Formate dai luoghi in cui si sono radicate, le lingue minoritarie del mondo incorporano validi sistemi di conoscenza relativi all’adattamento culturale del popolo al suo ambiente. Strettamente connesse alla diversità ecologica, queste diverse lingue locali sono enciclopedie di tassonomie e di conoscenza ambientale accumulatesi per generazioni. L’estinzione delle lingue può portare anche alla scomparsa di antiche tradizioni spirituali. Le pratiche un tempo riflesse nella lingua potrebbero non esistere più allo stesso modo di prima; quindi conservare una lingua serve anche a mantenere intatte le tradizioni spirituali.

5. Gli attivisti per le lingue indigene e i collaboratori professionisti delle lingue lavorano duramente nell’anonimato, pagati poco o nulla.

Gli attivisti per le lingue indigene sono parlanti madrelingua che guidano gli sforzi locali per conservare le proprie lingue. Possono impegnarsi nell’insegnare la lingua a bambini ed adulti, nel registrare la conoscenza degli anziani, nell’organizzare attività, eventi culturali ecc. Ma spesso sono sottostimati dalla loro comunità, e guadagnano poco o nulla secondo i casi. Ovviamente ci sono anche comunità in cui gli attivisti e gli educatori sono ben ricompensati per i loro sforzi, per cui tutto dipende effettivamente dalla situazione locale. L’attivismo linguistico è un lavoro a tempo pieno. Se gli attivisti lavorano duramente senza stipendio, meriterebbero di essere retribuiti.

I collaboratori professionisti della lingua sono di solito ricercatori, linguisti e altri professionisti di media o di ONG che utilizzano le proprie abilità e conoscenze per assistere gli attivisti nel conservare le loro lingue. In molti casi queste persone sono a loro volta volontari, e non vengono pagate per il tempo che dedicano a questi progetti. Assicurare fondi per progetti di documentazione linguistica è molto difficile e può essere problematico, poiché non può essere garantito anno per anno.

4. La documentazione linguistica è un lavoro faticoso ma affascinante.

La vera documentazione scientifica di una lingua richiede molti anni per essere compiuta, e i migliori progetti di documentazione comportano una stretta collaborazione tra i madrelingua e gli altri membri della comunità interessati. Il lavoro è sempre più proficuo quando si ha la partecipazione di più linguisti qualificati che contribuiscono ognuno con la propria specializzazione.

3. I programmi di rivitalizzazione linguistica sono progetti di lunga durata.

Svolgere un progetto di rivitalizzazione linguistica non è come fare un tirocinio estivo. Una vera rivitalizzazione è possibile solo con un impegno a lungo termine di parlanti, educatori ed attivisti linguistici entro la comunità. I linguisti non possono salvare o conservare le lingue indigene, e per le comunità il cammino verso la rivitalizzazione non è facile.

2. La colpa non è di Internet.

C’è la diffusa quanto errata convinzione che Internet, in quanto potente tentacolo della globalizzazione, contribuisca alla rovina delle lingue minoritarie. In realtà è vero il contrario. Internet costituisce un’opportunità senza precedenti delle voci minoritarie per farsi sentire, grazie ai media civili. Inoltre, i mezzi d’apprendimento linguistico online, non solo aiutano a dare visibilità alle lingue minoritarie nella rete, ma aiutano anche i madrelingua a condividere le loro conoscenze e a mantenere contatti a grande distanza.

1. La tecnologia digitale non rimpiazzerà mai una viva comunità di parlanti, ma può aiutare a conservare e insegnare le lingue, come a tenere i contatti tra i parlanti.

Le innovazioni nelle tecnologie audio e video aiutano a conservare le registrazioni, possono servire come strumento d’insegnamento e per connettere delle persone ad altri parlanti della stessa lingua che non vivono nella stessa zona. Ora le comunità linguistiche a rischio possono creare spazi virtuali in cui i parlanti possono andare ad ascoltare la propria lingua, in qualsiasi parte del mondo si trovino. Applicazioni, social network, blog e forum linguistici sono un grande strumento per migliorare e facilitare la comunicazione, ma non possono certo sostituire i parlanti stessi.

Grazie per la lettura. Condividete l’articolo se vi è piaciuto!

Date un’occhiata alla nostra pagina sulle Risorse per le Lingue a Rischio, che elenca tutti gli sforzi di documentazione in corso nel mondo. Sulla pagina l’informazione è organizzata secondo i cosiddetti Language Hotspots (“punti linguistici critici”), cioè quelle dense regioni del mondo con il più alto tasso di varietà linguistica, i più alti gradi di pericolo e le lingue meno studiate.

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Anna Luisa Daigneault è Development Officer & Latin America Projects Coordinator presso il Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages.

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Top 10 Things You Need To Know About Endangered Languages

By Anna Luisa Daigneault
Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages

This blog post is available in Italian, translated by Martino Dellavedova. It was also translated into Spanish by Antuel D’Adam via Global Voices Español, and it was translated into French by Adboulaye Bah via Global Voices Français.

In honor of UNESCO International Mother Language Day (Feb. 21), I would like to bring attention to some key issues related to language loss. As the language preservation and revitalization movement grows around the world, more and more positive media attention has been given to endangered languages, which is a great step for indigenous language activists who want their languages to gain more respect and recognition. The best way to protect a language is to respect and protect its people. However, there are still many ongoing challenges that language activists face. I want to share this list in an effort to help the broader public become aware of the struggles involved in language revitalization, maybe dispel some of the myths surrounding endangered languages, and hopefully help people understand what is at stake when a language is lost. Without further ado, here are the top ten things you need to know about endangered languages:

10. Since the beginning of the 20th century, minority languages have been shifting to dominant languages at an accelerated and unprecedented pace.

It’s happening fast, especially in former settlement colonies. Language shift is happening rapidly, and the process is related to the ongoing impacts of colonization, cultural assimilation, urbanization and globalization. When there is a contraction of local diversity, it leads to cultural erosion, the loss of minority languages, and can even lead to the loss of cultural identity over time.

9. Up to half of the world’s 7105 languages may be at risk of disappearing.

Several thousand languages are currently experiencing some level of threat. It is important to note that not only are many individual languages at risk, but entire languages families are also going extinct, which is an incomparable loss for humanity.

In terms of assessing individual language endangerment, you can’t always tell if the language is stable based on the number of speakers alone. Sometimes languages still have very large speaker populations, but if the average age of speaker is over 50, that is an indicator that the language is not being passed down to children. The language is therefore not stable, and the number of fluent speakers will soon dwindle. The language might be lost in only a generation or two. In other cases, the numbers of speakers of a language might be low, but if there are enough speakers of all age groups, then the language is still being transmitted to the youngest members of the community, and the language may still survive for many generations to come.

8. Many endangered languages have never been recorded, and have never been written down.

It’s true. There are many languages out there that have no audio recordings. Having high-quality audio recordings of words and phrases in a language are an essential tool for a community that does not have many fluent speakers left, and wishes to preserve the correct pronunciation of the language after the last speakers have passed on, if that is the eventual end to the process of shift their community is experiencing. The next few decades constitute a crucial period for recording the last speakers of the most critically endangered languages, and for supporting local indigenous language activists who are doing great work reviving relatively less endangered, or threatened languages, in their communities. High-quality recordings are also essential for linguists who wish to analyze the sounds and structure of a language, and assist communities in developing language materials suitable for language transmission.

Furthermore, many cultures have passed on their legacy through oral traditions, and did not rely on writing systems for knowledge transmission. However, the need for a suitable orthography arises when speakers wish their languages to be taught in schools, have a presence in the media, and be recognized by state authorities. In some cases, if the writing system is created too hastily, it might not accurately capture the complex sounds found in that language. The best writing systems are created when fluent speakers work with fluent educators and other specialists, and they all take the time to create a writing system that works well for the community’s needs, and can also be readily used on modern computer interfaces. The creation of good writing systems, and the accompanying technology to accommodate special characters, requires time, diligence, patience, coordination and money to pay people to work on the projects.

7. Language loss is happening in nearly every country in the world.

It’s happening near you. With the exception of monolingual countries such as Uruguay (where many indigenous languages were eradicated), Korea, and a handful of other countries, you can observe languages loss in most countries in the world. If you live in Canada, the United States, or Australia, you may be surprised to find out that language loss is not an exotic phenomenon, but also a local one. Many of the First Nations, Native American, and Aboriginal languages that you have heard of are in danger of disappearing, unless the speakers have the necessary resources and infrastructure in place to keep their languages alive. In the case of Europe, there are also many local minority languages in various regions that are at risk of being lost.

While there are threatened languages in almost every country, it is important to note language shift is not evenly distributed across the world, and one can identify Language Hotspots, which are concentrated regions of the world having the highest level of linguistic diversity, the highest levels of endangerment, and the least-studied languages. The Language Hotspots are places in where language documentation is urgently needed in this current generation.

6. Minority languages are an important part of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage.

In our diverse and multilingual world, languages are a source of cultural wealth. Shaped by the places in which they are rooted, the world’s minority languages encode valuable knowledge systems related to people’s cultural adaptation to the local landscapes. Intimately connected to ecological diversity, these diverse local languages are storehouses of taxonomies and environmental knowledge accumulated over generations. Language extinction can also lead to the disappearance of ancient spiritual traditions. Practices once performed in the language might no longer exist the same way as before, and therefore language maintenance is also necessary to keep spiritual traditions intact.

5. Indigenous language activists and professional language allies often toil in obscurity, for little or no pay.

Indigenous language activists are speakers who spearhead local efforts to conserve their languages. They may be involved in teaching children and adults to speak the language, recording the elders’ knowledge, organizing workshops, cultural events, etc. They are often under-recognized by their community, and depending on the circumstances, they work for little to no pay. Of course, there are also many communities out there where the language activists and educators are well compensated for their efforts, so it really depends on the local situation. Language activism is a full-time job. If the activists are toiling with no wages, they deserve to be compensated.

Professional languages allies are usually researchers, linguists and other media or NGO professionals who use their skills and background to assist activists in conserving their languages. In many cases, these people are also volunteering their time, and not being paid for the time they put into the language projects. Securing funding for language documentation projects is very difficult and can be problematic since it can’t be guaranteed from year to year.

4. Language documentation is tedious but fascinating work.

A proper scientific documentation of a language takes many years to accomplish and the best documentation projects involve meaningful collaboration with fluent speakers and other concerned members of the community. The process is always further enhanced when there is participation from multiple trained linguists who each can contribute their expertise.

3. Language revitalization programs are life-long projects.

Doing a language revitalization project is not just a summertime internship project. True revitalization is only possible with long-term commitment from speakers, educators and language activists within the community. Linguists don’t save or maintain indigenous languages, and there is no simple path to revitalization for communities.

2. The Internet is not killing minority languages.

There is a popular misconception that the Internet, as a powerful tentacle of globalization, is contributing to the demise of minority languages. However, the opposite is true. The Internet provides an unprecedented opportunity for minority voices to be heard, thanks to citizen media. Furthermore, online language-learning tools not only help create visibility for minority languages on the Web, but also help speakers share their knowledge and maintain networks over large distances.

1. Digital technology will never replace a living community of speakers, but it can help preserve and teach languages, as well as connect speakers.

Innovations in audio and video recording technology help preserve recordings, can serve as a learning aid, and connect people to other speakers of their language who may not live in the same location. Endangered language communities can now create virtual spaces where speakers can go to listen to their language, no matter where they are in the world. Apps, social networks, blogs and language forums are a great tool for enhancing and facilitating communication, but of course cannot and do not replace the speakers themselves.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share the article, and re-blog it.

Check out our Endangered Language Resource Page, which lists many ongoing documentation efforts going on around the world. The information on the page is organized according to Language Hotspots, which are concentrated regions of the world having the highest level of linguistic diversity, the highest levels of endangerment, and the least-studied languages.

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Anna Luisa Daigneault is Development Officer & Latin America Projects Coordinator at Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages.
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Indigenous Languages Panel @ Canadian Festival of Spoken Word

This panel took place at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word on Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) territory at the MAI in Montreal, Quebec, on Nov. 9th 2013. It featured distinguished indigenous language activists, poets and scholars. They drew from First Nations oral traditions, spoken word and linguistics to discuss and celebrate indigenous languages in Canada. Panelists explored current threats that their languages face, and presented examples of community education initiatives that are underway to stop language extinction by engaging new generations of speakers. Among many topics, oral transmission, writing systems, phonetics, digital art forms and new media were discussed.

We wish to extend a big thank you to everyone involved in this event! Thank you to the MAI, to the Festival, and to the Festival Director Moe Clark, to everyone who attended, and to everyone who gave presentations. We would like to emphasize how amazing it was to hear all of the panelists’ stories. It is so important to hear about their experiences and approaches to language conservation and revitalization directly from the language warriors themselves. Miigwech.

ImageFrom left to right: Melody McKiver (Anishnaabe), Vera Wabegijig (Anishnaabe), Anna Luisa Daigneault (Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages), Jacques Newashish (Atikamekw). Photo by Leonor Daigneault.

ImageIndigenous Languages: Heritage and Spirits / Langues autochtones: patrimoine et esprit. Photo by Leonor Daigneault.

 

ImageFrom left to right: Chelsea Vowel (Plains Cree), Kahtehrón:ni Iris Stacey (Mohawk), Leith Mahkewa (Oneida / Hopi / Mohawk), Manon Tremblay (Muskeg Lake Cree), Louise Halfe Sky Dancer (Cree). Photo by Leonor Daigneault.

 

For more details on this panel, and for bios on all of the participants, please see our event page:

https://livingtongues.wordpress.com/canadian_festival2013/

 

Miigwech!

Talking Dictionaries of Latin America

We are pleased to announce that 14 new Talking Dictionaries for Latin America are now under development and are available for online viewing and listening. The new dictionaries were created in collaboration with indigenous speakers, linguists and technical specialists at two recent digital skills workshops in South America.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 12.50.50 PMThe Mam, Mapudungun, Mazahua, Miahuatec Zapotec, Monkox Besiro, Pipil (Nahuat), Quechua Chanka, Tsesungun and Yanesha were produced in Chile at our digital skills workshop called “Voces Duraderas” that we held at the Biblioteca de Santiago in Chile. Dr. Gregory D. S. Anderson and Anna Luisa Daigneault traveled to Chile to teach the workshop in January 2013. We would like to acknowledge the great work of the following indigenous speakers who attended the event and learned the digital skills necessary to build these new dictionaries:

– Andres Ozuna Ortiz (Yshyr-chamacoco, Paraguay)
– Anselmo Nuyado Ancapichun and Jonattan Laoiza Ancapichun (Tsesungun, Chile)
– Espíritu Bautista and Elmo Bautista (Yanesha / Amuesha, Peru)
– Judith Condori Gavilán (Quechua Chanka, Peru)
– María Inés Huenuñir Antihuala (Mapudungun, Chile)
– Emiliano Cruz Santiago (Miahuatec Zapotec San Bartolomé Loxicha, México)
– Verónica Fidencio Núñez (Mazahua, México)
– Carlos Enrique Cortez (Pipil / Nahuat, El Salvador)
– José Reginaldo Pérez Vail (Mam, Guatemala)
– Ignacio Tomicha Chuve (Monkox Besiro, Bolivia)

Many thanks to Eddie Avila from Rising Voices who helped us facilitate the workshop, and to Cristian Maturana and the rest of the staff at Biblioteca de Santiago who helped us make the “Voces Duraderas” workshop a success for all who took part.

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Talking Dictionaries of Colombia

The Talking Dictionaries for Nasa Yuwe, Sáliba, Embera, Uitoto and Wayuunaiki were produced by a team of linguists, indigenous specialists and language activists at a workshop at the Instituto Caro y Cuervo in Colombia. Dr. K. David Harrison traveled there in October 2012 to help facilitate the workshop and produce these dictionaries, which are still under construction. Check out our blog posting about his trip.

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These online dictionaries are a powerful educational tools for communities that are trying to revitalize their endangered languages. Each site is programmed to be bilingual so that speakers of the local dominant language can easily use it. It serves as a resource to help fluent speakers teach their native language to a new generation of speakers.

These Talking Dictionaries were created by the Enduring Voices Project funded by the National Geographic Society and Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages. Additional support and hosting by Swarthmore College. Interface and database design under the direction of Jeremy Fahringer.

If you love Talking Dictionaries as much as we do, please consider donating to our fundraising campaign to build 12 new Talking Dictionaries in Papua New Guinea.

Thanks for reading!

Enduring Voices Media Skills Workshop in Chile, Jan 7-11, 2013

We are pleased to announce we are teaming up with National Geographic to produce a digital media skills workshop for speakers of Latin American endangered languages.

The event is called “Voces Duraderas” (part of our “Enduring Voices Project“) and it will take place from January 7th to 11th, in Santiago, Chile. Twelve indigenous participants from seven different countries will be taking part in the workshop. We are really looking forward to this! The program (in Spanish) is available here.

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And, we are happy that our upcoming Latin American workshop has already received some great press coverage! Read about it in TIME Magazine’s Newsfeed, This is Chile (Chile’s official website), and on the Rising Voices blog.

ImagePhoto caption from “This is Chile” article about the workshop.

Thanks for reading and supporting endangered language documentation!

If you are in Santiago, feel free to join us for the closing day of the workshop:

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Mapudungun poetry by María Inés Huenuñir Antihuala

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Great news! We are organizing our first-ever media skills workshop for speakers of Latin American endangered languages. It will take place in Chile in January 2013. One our invited participants is language activist María Inés Huenuñir Antihuala (pictured above, on the left).

Maria is a Mapuche teacher and poet who writes beautiful bilingual poetry in Mapudungun and Spanish. Here is an example of one of her bilingual poems, “Mapuche Domo” with the English translation by Living Tongues researcher Anna Luisa Daigneault. If you are a Mapudungun or Spanish speaker and see ways to improve the English translation, please leave us a comment. Thanks! A video recording of the poem can also be viewed below.

MAPUCHE DOMO

Weñankley kiñe domo,
kiñe Mapuche ñuke,
kisu ka lelikeyantu
lelikey ximiñ pun
tukunefi, kisu ñi kupam meu
weñanklekey,
welu kume tukukey.
Ñi xapelakucha kañi xariloyko
amun rellmu felekey ñi chape
ka kiñe kelu xariwe tukunekey,
pa yomillkey ñi age yewekelu.
Wellu kume kidaukey
cheu ñi amun amukey
kisu ni sungu yengu
Mapuche ñuke.
Amun manke reke feleaimi
fey ta yewekelay ñi kurigen
kume uxapralekey wente escudo mev
eimi niemi kume piuke.
kume molfiñ
poyeneimi kom mi puke puñeñ
amuaimi emi mi lelfiñ mev
kiñe koskilla rayen elumeaimi
chaltumai ñuke.

MUJER MAPUCHE

Triste suspira una mujer,
es una mujer Mapuche,
ella también puede ver,
luz de día, oscuridad de noche.
La oscuridad se asemeja
a lo oscuro de su ropa
y aunque triste ella maneja,
sus lindas joyas de plata.
Cintas de colores, en sus trenzas,
lleva una roja faja también
ya ¡No quiere más ofensas!
ella trabaja muy bien.
Se acompleja por su piel oscura,
se siente falta de comprensión,
pero quiere defender su cultura,
llevar su costumbre por tradición.
Mujer Mapuche, ¡has como el condor!
él, pese a su plumaje oscuro
se siente feliz y con gran honor,
orgulloso se luce sobre el escudo.
Tú tienes corazón sincero y tierno
que rebosa de sangre pura,
mujer de cariño eterno…
proteges a tus hijos con gran ternura.
Amada madre ¡no te sientas mal!
vive tranquila, con serenidad
allá, siempre cerca de lo natural,
te daré un copihue, gracias a tu bondad

MAPUCHE WOMAN

The sad sigh of a woman,
she is a Mapuche woman.
She can see both
the light of day, the dark of night.
The darkness blends
with the dark color of her clothes.
Although she is sad, she proudly wears
her beautiful silver jewelry.
Laces of all colors, in her braids,
she wears a red belt as well.
She wants no more insults!
She works so hard.
Troubled by her dark skin,
No one understands her.
But she wants to defend her culture,
Carry on with her traditional customs.
Mapuche woman, be like the condor!
Despite his dark feathers,
He feels happiness and great honor
He shines proudly on the coat of arms.
You have a sincere and tender heart
That overflows with pure blood
Woman of eternal tenderness
Protect your children with great care!
Beloved mother, don’t be hard on yourself!
Live peacefully, with serenity
There, near the natural world
I will give you a kopiwe flower
To thank you for your kindness

BODY OF WORDS: Announcing our Guest Blog Series on Language Loss

by Anna Luisa Daigneault

What is a language? A cultural code, an invisible ink, the sonic architecture of how we think… A language is a breath of life, and when it is endangered, it becomes a fragile treasure. Webs of meaning start to fade, carrying with them stories untold, and impoverishing humanity as a whole.

What is a linguist? A wordsmith, a lover of terms…    A deep-sea diver of minds. A sorter, a hacker, a surgeon of the soul – a kind of acrobat who goes careening into structural unknowns. A linguist of under-documented languages is an explorer who seeks to study  languages that are well-known to its native speakers, but new to science.

Whether we speak one language or five, language defines our human experience. All of our interactions and communication are mediated by language. For those of us who love languages, we cannot deny the troubling nature of the following fact: more than half of the world’s languages and dialects are going to disappear in the next century. What does that mean for the speakers of those languages? What does it mean for humanity?

This unprecedented decrease in linguistic diversity is linked to globalization, among many other factors. It is time for the public to be aware about these issues, and to share opinions in the global dialog about endangered languages.

Along with two guest writers, Allison Taylor-Adams and Indira Sarma, I am starting a summer guest blog series entitled Body of Words. We hope that you will help us spread the word about our blog series, and respond to our posts with questions and comments.

We will be discussing various issues surrounding language loss and recovery, including: the impact of boarding schools on speakers of indigenous languages, the use of new technologies and social media in language revitalization, knowledge systems encoded in languages and what their loss means for mankind, challenges in language documentation and other relevant subjects.

By discussing these issues, we hope to dispel some of the misconceptions about endangered languages, celebrate language diversity and promote efforts currently underway to protect endangered languages. Stay tuned for our first article in the series, coming out on July 4th, 2012.

Living Tongues Institute regularly encounters perspectives on language endangerment that we believe our blog readers would find thought-provoking, fascinating, debatable and challenging. This guest blog series is a forum for such opinions. The views expressed belong to the author and are not necessarily shared by Living Tongues Institute.