Monday, November 3, 2014

How to revive an American Indian language with no native speakers

The original language of Los Angeles is Tongva
Pamela Munro writes about the challenges and rewards of revitalizing and resurrecting a North American First People's language that had lost all of its native speakers.

Our Gabrielino-Tongva Language Committee has put together a phrasebook—including everything from Chongaa'aa kukuume'a! ("Wash the dishes!") to 'Wiishmenokre ("I love you")—and a little book about animals.  We've had to figure out a lot of things using creativity, common sense, and comparison with other local languages. Now we have a Coyote story (a moral tale like those in Aesop's Fables), the Christmas story, and a version of the Aquarium of the Pacific's blue whale story.