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Thread poster: Fabio Descalzi
American Indian Languages

Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 10:59
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
Apr 21, 2007

Good morning everybody

Here we go with a new forum, which pretends to help compilate, inform and empower all those resources related to aboriginal languages from the "New World".
Many of those languages are endangered. Some others are very live, but the vast majority of their speakers hardly can read and write - not to think of using a PC.
But the effort is worth trying!

Welcome to this thread.

If you are looking for the corresponding Spanish thread, please visit:
Lenguas aborígenes de las Américas

[Edited at 2007-04-21 03:39]


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zabrowa
Local time: 13:59
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Good idea Apr 21, 2007

The more information and cooperation we have on this issue the better. I hope we can foster some interesting communication.

I work with a group of linguists who focus on Amazonian and Andean indigenous languages. My own work focuses mainly on Paez, and members of the Jaqi family like Jaraqu, Aymara, and related dialects/languages.

Curious what other researchers, linguists, and anthropologists at ProZ are up to...


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Alan R King
Local time: 13:59
Basque to English
+ ...
Oj! Apr 21, 2007

...which means "hi!" in the Nawat language spoken by the Pipils of El Salvador in Central America, an extremely endangered language. (Although now living in Europe, I belong to a local initiative to support Nawat language recovery).

Good luck to the forum and thank you for starting it, Fabio. I am very interested in the topic and will do what I can to contribute and support it.

San timuitasket! ("We'll see each other around", expression used in the Nawat-speaking village of Cuisnahuat).

Alan


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Evangelia Mouma  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 14:59
Member (2006)
English to Greek
+ ...
Great idea Apr 21, 2007

Great idea, really.
I don't speak any of these languages so I do not think I can help at all but I'll be interested to see what other people know.
If however you believe that I can do something, feel free to ask for it.
Eva

[Edited at 2007-04-21 07:17]


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jmadsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:59
Native American Languages Apr 21, 2007

Besides being a fulltime freelance translator, I have been studying the culture and history of the Native Americans since I was a child. Also I have a unfinished Danish information website on Native Americans. My long-term plans are to publish material (books etc.) primarily for education. I haven't studied languages in particular, but have an in-depth knowledge about Native American culture and history, besides a large number of books on the subject, e.g. all currently published volumes of the Handbook of North American Indians, including vol. 17 Languages.
So I may be able to contribute to the discussions in this forum and certainly be listening in...

Pilamaye ("thanks" in Lakota).
Jørgen


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Gabi Ancarola
Italy
Italian to Spanish
+ ...
Interesting idea Apr 21, 2007

All my support to this new forum.
I've also done some research on Native American languages (focusing more on native literature, though) specially in the quechua area (Perú mostly) and Maya (Guatemala mostly).
Good to know Proz also opens a forum on this subject.

Best of luck!

Gabi


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 07:59
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
An excellent initiative Apr 22, 2007

I think this is a great idea. I live in Canada and am sometimes in contact with people (Hurons, for example) whose culture is dying and I feel really sad about this.

I unfortunately can't contribute, but I applaud the effort. I hope this will help to preserve a bit of world culture.


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 10:59
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hello! Apr 23, 2007

Hi people from all over the global village!

I hardly can believe it: I timidly put a new thread, expecting "someone to please drop in"... and when I wake up a couple of hours ago, we already have four intrepid persons ready to do something. And from very distant places - much better! Means that this matter ALREADY matters worldwide... and only a few (in the global crowd) have taken notice - so far.

Thank you Matt, Alan, Evangelia, Jørgen, Mª Gabriela and Viktoria for taking part. I would very much ask you to give diffusion to this idea among people you know.
If you know other linguists (be it PhD linguists or simple schoolteachers) i.e. real or potential activists for American Indian languages, please, ask them to join this initiative.
It's perhaps a good moment to ask them to join ProZ.com as users. What we need over here, is a "critical mass" of interested people.

In my own country, Uruguay (in Guarani, "River of the Painted Birds") we have lots of toponimicals of pre-colonial origin - beginning with the name of the country, but also Yi, Yaguarón, Tupambaé, Tacuarembó, Chuy, Arerunguá, Cuñapirú, Itacumbú, Arapey, Queguay, etc. Since we don't have Indian population anymore, looking at the origin of our toponimicals is sort of making linguistic archaeology.

Hope we can start out something new, departing from this thread.

If there are previous threads on the topic, please be so kind and link them here!

Regards,
Fabio


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:59
English to Dutch
+ ...
Great idea Apr 23, 2007

I think this is an excellent idea.

I don't speak or read any Native American languages, but I've been thinking more than once about learning to do so. I'd be specifically interested in languages from the South-West of the USA. Does any body know how to go about this? (I live in Europe and do not plan to move.)

The idea for me is, that the more people show an interest in these languages, the better they are kept alive and with them the historical and cultural treasures they carry with them. I'd be happy to contribute to that.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:59
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just curious... Apr 23, 2007

... but any native speakers out there?

I'm asking because one of the trends among these languages is recessive bilingualism; i.e., the socially-integrated and professionally-active native speaker is usually bilingual in a majority language, which his group uses as a pivot for communication with the larger social group.

I'd also like to know if anybody has any information on programs aimed at revitalizing these languages.

Thanks for any contributions!


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Fabio Descalzi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 10:59
Member (2004)
German to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
About native Amerindians here Apr 23, 2007


Parrot wrote:

... but any native speakers out there?

I'm asking because one of the trends among these languages is recessive bilingualism; i.e., the socially-integrated and professionally-active native speaker is usually bilingual in a majority language, which his group uses as a pivot for communication with the larger social group.

I'd also like to know if anybody has any information on programs aimed at revitalizing these languages.

Thanks for any contributions!


Thank you Parrot.

Two points on the particular issue:
1) Latin American native speakers of American Indian languages usually speak Spanish (and only Spanish) - for that, see the Spanish thread on the matter.
2) North American native speakers of American Indian languages - where are they here, at ProZ? So far I have seen only speakers of European languages dealing with American Indian languages.

Just what I told at the beginning of this very thread: "...the vast majority of their speakers hardly can read and write - not to think of using a PC."

This could be sort of beginning a crusade for the electronic alphabetization of Amerindians...


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Margreet Logmans  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:59
English to Dutch
+ ...
Search results Apr 23, 2007

After reading the postings by Parrot and Fabio, I did somewhat of a search through the directories here on ProZ.

I tried to find a service provider for a number of North American Indian Languages as source language, target language English. It seemed to me that this would be the most logical choice, since any native speaker who would be offering their services here is presumably bilingual.

I searched Athapascan, Zuni, Navajo, Dakota, Cree, Northamerican Indian languages (other), Mohawk, Choctaw, Ojibway, Iroquian, Arapaho, Apachelanguages, Cherokee, Cheyenne and Delaware.
I only found three service providers, one an agency in Canada, and two persons who mention Lakota (= Dakota) as working language - no native speakers at all.

It seems those languages are not commercially interesting, not even as a second language.

I don't believe Native Americans are illiterate or digitally/electronically illiterate. Many tribes/groups have websites and newspapers and such. For some reason it is just not interesting to speakers of these languages to register here at ProZ. I wonder why?

As for revitalization, there used to be some language programs/courses in the Southwestern USA; can't find any of these on the Internet now, though.


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jmadsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:59
Suggestions Apr 23, 2007


Margreet Logmans wrote:

I'd be specifically interested in languages from the South-West of the USA. Does any body know how to go about this? (I live in Europe and do not plan to move.)



Most (if not all) Native American languages are not commercially interesting, since they mostly act as secondary languages. English is the "working" everyday language. Native tongues are only used in traditional, mostly non-commercial circles.

Some tribes have tribal colleges, and I know that some of them teach Native languages at summer school, so maybe that's a possibility for you.

For Native American language resources, see http://www.hanksville.org/NAresources/indices/NAlanguage.html
or
http://www.kstrom.net/isk/stories/langlist.html
(http://www.kstrom.net/isk/stories/language.html)

For Native American colleges, see http://www.hanksville.org/NAresources/indices/NAcollege.html

BR Jørgen


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jmadsen  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:59
Status of the Native American languages Apr 23, 2007

It is unknown exactly how many languages were spoken in North America in pre-Columbian times, the problem being that many tribes disappeared before sufficient linguistic material could be gathered. However, it was probably somewhere between 300 and 400 languages.

In a listing from 1995 over 329 known Native American languages in North America, around 209 were still spoken. Of these, only 46 were spoken by a significant number of children (and adults), 91 were spoken by adults, but by no or very few children, 72 were spoken by a few elders only, and 120 were extinct. I have the complete list, should anyone be interested.

When referring to Native Americans, I mean the native peoples living north of the urban civilizations in Mexico.

Source: Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 17 Languages.

BR Jørgen


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