Lessons from Documented Endangered Languages

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These clips show four different endangered languages from three continents around the world: North America, Asia, and Africa. One such reason is that widely used languages can squeeze out the smaller ones, something described in the interview. They also will read about the importance of a language being spoken at home: once a language stops being used in the home, the risk for the language petering out becomes great.

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When the language is lost, so too are important parts of the culture. The introduction gives a definition of linguistics. Hit enter and on the left is a table of contents with a section on endangered languages. This section covers: how globalization is causing some languages to become endangered, the implications of this, and preservation efforts.

This paper is likely too advanced for 6th graders, but may be o. Give students a good overview of this lesson—this may be a new topic to them and you will want to illustrate how culture is intertwined with language. Note: If you have students in your class who speak other languages, explore the topic with those students to ascertain examples of things they say and do, and traditions in their families that do not translate into English. Ask students to describe the importance of language.

Students will likely start to describe how it helps them communicate. Below are examples of culture being part of the Korean language. Use these examples or other examples you are familiar with. You will want to have the students also point to these places. Tell students to go to their Endangered Languages student esheet.

They will link to Saving Aleut , a second radio piece. Students will hear a brief conversation in Aleut and hear sound bites from linguist Alice Taff. Students can use the Endangered Languages student sheet to answer these questions. Discuss them in class:.

Explain that languages can carry cultural knowledge that does not translate directly to other languages. Cultural knowledge may include how to grow certain foods or hunt. It may be stories passed down from generation to generation.

Lessons from Documented Endangered Languages | KSA | Souq

An example is the Tofa people in Siberia who developed an amazing system in their native language for classifying reindeer. They classified every reindeer by age, sex, ease of riding, etc. This system helped the Tofa people thrive in a very harsh environment. The language was not passed on to the current generation. The younger generation speaks Russian.

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Explain that people who work to preserve languages generally believe that losing a language means a loss of inherited knowledge—the kind that is passed on from generation to generation. And inherited knowledge is really what makes human culture unique. That is why Dr. Taff is working to preserve the Aleut language.

Now students should use their esheet to go to video clips from The Last Speakers , which last a total of two and a half minutes. They also will read a paragraph about each clip and they may opt to go back and watch the film clips again after reading about them. Students will see these clips of people speaking endangered languages:.

After students have watched the clips, have one or two students identify on the map where these languages are spoken.

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Ask students these questions:. He discusses why and how languages become endangered. After students read this, ask these questions:.

Students should go on to read A Swarthmore professor, worried that so many languages are dying out, undertook a rescue mission to Siberia , an article about K. David Harrison, a linguist who is trying to save Middle Chulym, the endangered Siberian language, which was demonstrated in clip two earlier. When students are done reading, ask these questions:. The Science NetLinks lesson, Environment, Technology, and Culture of the Chumash People , helps extend the ideas in this lesson by helping to define culture.

Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association gives an overview of the history of the Aleuts. Ironbound Films, producers of The Last Speakers and contributors to this lesson have a Press Link on their site that has a good compilation of stories about dying languages and stories about K.


David Harrison, the linguist trying to save Middle Chulym, among other languages. See the Tool. See the Collection. See the Lesson. Discuss them in class: What has happened to the language Aleut?

Linguistic Society of America

Aleut was once spoken by more than 20, people. Now only about people speak it fluently. What is the linguist, Alice Taff, doing to preserve the language? Taff is documenting the language including vocabulary, songs, and how it is used in everyday life. What about the science of linguistics? How would you explain it to someone? Students will understand that what Taff does is linguistics, but they may not know the full extent of this area of study.

Statistics on the speakers themselves can provide a starting point for a discussion of contemporary language use. To that end, I have compiled some statistical information on Quechua language use, gathered where possible from the national censuses of the respective countries on the assumption that they contain the most officially recognized information, although I recognize that they are not necessarily the most accurate.

Number of Quechua speakers according to recent sources 2. It is notable that the figures in Table 1 do not even closely approximate the eight to twelve million speakers mentioned above. This could be due to a number of factors, be they political, ideological, economic, attitudinal, or due to lack of human resources, lack of appropriate training, etc.

In addition, I have not addressed the issue of monolingual vs. It is conceivable that the fact of the monolingualism or multilingualism of an interviewee could also somehow be influencing the information collected in the censuses. It is estimated that there are more than one and half million monolingual Quechua speakers in Peru.

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These populations can be explained by the continued existence of some geographically isolated regions, generally found high in the Andes or in lowland areas where it remains difficult for outsiders to penetrate and exert much linguistic influence. The highest concentration of monolinguals is in the rural highlands of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador.

Most of the Quechua speakers are bilinguals, and some of them multilinguals. There are Quechua speakers across the Andean territory and the Amazon basin.

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  • Historically, Southern and Northern Quechua QII , which extends from the QI regions as far north as southeastern Colombia and as far as south as northern Chile and Argentina, has received the most attention from linguists and language planners, largely because its dialects are much more widely spoken than those of QI, especially in the pre-Hispanic centers of power and those areas first colonized by the Spanish. Quechua speakers can be found in rural and urban contexts small and isolated communities and in the metropolitan areas of South America.

    Due to all types of migration national as well as international , thousands of Quechua speakers can be found in transnational contexts as well. It is important to understand not only the historical situation of contact that Quechua has suffered for more than years, but also the linguistic diversity within the language, which is disguised by the use of one name to refer to multiple varieties. Unfortunately, such constitutional recognition varies widely across the region.