November 03, 2007

From Yahya Abdal-Aziz:

Re: A language dies every two weeks, researchers say (Sept. 18): An excellent and timely article!

An­der­son said lan­guages be­come en­dan­gered when a com­mun­ity de­cides that its lan­guage is an im­ped­i­ment. The chil­dren may be first to do this, he ex­plained, real­iz­ing that oth­er more widely spo­ken lan­guages are more use­ful. The key to get­ting a lan­guage re­vi­tal­ized, he said, is get­ting a new genera­t­ion of speak­ers. He said the in­sti­tute worked with lo­cal com­mun­i­ties and tries to help by de­vel­op­ing teach­ing ma­te­ri­als and by re­cord­ing the en­dan­gered lan­guage.

Which is why every local educational authority should be enrolled in the program to help preserve languages endemic to their areas by teaching them - however informally, if necessary! - to school-age children, in particular those in the early years, and to any and all interested adults, for free.

I’ve been trying for years to get a Koori (Australian first nations person in the region including Victoria) who is willing to teach me what they know of their traditional language(s) and culture. I’m not at all surprised that they haven’t been willing, given the poor and patronising treatment they’ve received from governments for many decades, as well as the factors that Anderson mentioned. But I am feeling frustrated

Yahya Abdal-Aziz
Wheelers Hill VIC 3150


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