This week in languages: July 8, 2016

by on July 8, 2016



In Fairbanks, Alaska, the 2016 Institute on Collaborative Language Research, or CoLang, wound up two weeks of exciting training workshops and presentations on language documentation and revitalisation by some 125 language activists, learners, linguists, speakers, students, teachers, elders, wiki bloggers, archivists, and publishers hailing from the Miyako/Ryukyuan, Mohawk, Tlingit, Potawatomi, Tunica/Biloxi, Tututni, Ahtna, Hän, Navajo/Dineì, Dene, Denaakk’e, Unangam Tunuu, Blackfoot/Blackfeet, Wendat, Karuk, Catalan, Kristang, Chickasaw, Seminole, Creek, and Ekegusii language communities. Unravel‘s own chief editor Kevin Martens Wong was there representing the Kristang-speaking community in Singapore, and will remain there for another three weeks working on Unangam Tunuu for the CoLang practica; look out for his Dialogue post on CoLang 2016 soon!

PRI‘s Patrick Cox ran a live show of the The World in Words podcast at the New York Public Library on June 29 featuring interviews with activists working on revitalisation efforts around the world. Cox spoke to guests working on Ainu, Hawaiian, Irish, Mustang, Shinnecock, and Zaza.

Maori Language Week was, for the first time, commemorated with a Maori Language Parade, which marched proudly through the streets of the New Zealand capital Wellington on Monday. However, as Maori Television notes somberly, “the challenge is to speak the Maori language beyond the week of celebration”—just 3.7% of New Zealanders today can speak Maori.

Commentaries and Features

In an opinion piece for The Irish Times, Pól Ó Muirí details the importance of preserving and valuing the Irish language. Still spoken by some as a native language in regions collectively known as the Gaeltacht (including parts of all four of Ireland’s provinces), Irish has been overshadowed by English for centuries but still survives and remains an integral part of many modern-day speakers’ lives.

Of language, politics, and identity: What happens when your language can only be transliterated logographically? That’s the reality for many Han Chinese “dialects” such as Cantonese, as R.K.G. shares in this reflective piece for The Economist. “Young people, empowered by mobile phones and computers, are changing the way they use their own language and breaking out of the straitjacket that has restricted communication for millennia. The trends in language mirror broader tensions between centralising, top-down forces trying to prevent dissent, and bottom-up trends among an increasingly empowered populace.”

Google has recently introduced its translation service as a new Now On Tap feature. The feature allows users of devices with Android’s latest update, Marshmallow 6.0, to easily translate text in apps and on webpages into the language set on their phones.

Melbourne’s Melton West Primary School considers itself to be committed to Aboriginal children and their culture, even running an extra-curricular club for indigenous students. One of the club’s members, however, pointed out last year that the school did not actually employ any Aboriginal teachers—an issue that principal Michelle Costa addressed by hiring Mathew Gardiner. Mr. Gardiner is a member of the Wurundjeri tribe and has run the aforementioned club and taught the Woi Wurrung language for the past two terms at Melton West.

One man’s bid to portray the 2013–2014 Euromaiden protests in Kiev, Ukraine in 100-word snippets on Facebook led to the production of a novel! Ukrainian writer Oleh Shynkarenko wrote his book, Kaharlyk, through the lives of various character-critics of the dystopian political system, and will be published in English by Kalyna Language Press, according to Electric Literature.

One Response to “This week in languages: July 8, 2016”

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