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Linguists estimate 6,000-7,000 languages are spoken worldwide,
and so that sounds like a tremendous amount of languages,
tremendous linguistic diversity,
but what that actually means
is that many, many languages have few numbers of speakers,
and in fact in many countries, as many as 90% or more of the people in that country
speak a language at home
other than the national or official language of that country.
30 languages including English, Arabic, Hindi, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese,
include more than 4 billion people speaking the language
so if there's 7 billion people worldwide,
and 4 billion people speak 30 languages,
that doesn't leave a lot of speakers left for the remaining 6,970 languages.
And in fact, more than half of the world's languages
are in critical situations for their survival.
These languages are endangered.
UNESCO has a series of criteria
that outline how a language is doing in terms of its survival.
And for these languages,
if there's no children in the home learning the language,
if there are only elderly speakers remaining,
those languages are in severely threatened states.
It maybe they're just vulnerable,
and in a few years, a few decades, the speakers will go,
but many languages are in a critically endangered situation
which means their very survival is threatened.
In fact, every continent in our global world
has an endangered language.
Endangered languages are found worldwide,
So, these critically endangered languages are on every continent,
but tiny languages are fighting back for their survival.
In Europe, the example of Irish is an amazing story,
and inspiring story of language revitalization and reclamation.
In the 19th century, as speakers started to realize
there were fewer and fewer Irish speakers and English was taking over,
they started to engage in efforts
in order to see that their languages survived.
In the Gaeltacht, those are the parts of Ireland
where the most number of speakers are found,
the most dense areas of Irish Gaelic speakers.
In the 20th century, we saw things like radio,
Irish Gaelic radio emerged,
and so new media offered places for speakers to regenerate and revive.
The indigenous language, Maori, spoken in New Zealand,
is the New Zealand indigenous language,
and that language has had a very vary lots of challenges that it's faced.
In the 1970s, the communities started to realize
that the survival of the language was threatened,
and so what happened in the 1980s is that Maori community members sought to
recreate that environment where language is best learnt :
in the home.
In the home, for child rearing
where parents, and grandparents, and children
engage in daily activities, immersed in their language.
This is the place where children best learn the language.
And so in the 1980s, the Maori created "language nests,"
trying to recreate that environment which was not possible at that time
because the parent generation, the childbearing generation,
did not speak the language, and as a consequence,
the Maori language nest model has taken over in many communities worldwide,
seeking to revive and revitalize their language use that model.
Closer to home in Arlington, Texas,
only three hours down the road in Ada, Oklahoma
is the Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program.
And this program is vigorously engaged in making sure its language survives
into the next generation.
Chickasaw, at best, has 60 to 65 speakers of the Chickasaw language,
and non of them are under the age of 60.
You can see that's a challenging situation for the Chickasaw tribal members.
But what the Chickasaw Language Program does
is they create lots of opportunities for their citizens
to engage and partake in the language.
For example,
playing cards with the language allow the grandparents, parents, and children
to engage in games, and have the language there.
If we look to Australia
where there's tremendous diversity in Aboriginal languages,
we find an inspiring example of a sleeping language being reawakened.
Jack Buckskin, a young Kaurna man
has been instrumental in bringing his language back.
With the help of linguist Rob Amery, and archival materials in the language,
Jack Buckskin learnt his language, he teaches his language,
and now his little girl speaks the language
which she learned in the home.
So once again, thanks to Jack Buckskin and his efforts,
and efforts of others around him;
what we see is the Kaurna language again spoken by children.
It's not just about language.
Tremendous amounts of information is stored and encoded in language :
culture, traditions, life ways, food,
knowledge about the seasons, climate, plants, and animals.
In fact, if we stay in Australia,
there's a significant oral tradition
among a number of different aboriginal people
that there was a time when the sea level was low,
and what is now island was then connected land
where people could roam.
But then the sea levels rose and life changed,
and this is something that's found in many aboriginal traditions:the story of the sea level change.
And if fact, there's parallels in western science for climate change
that 6,000-7,000 years ago the water levels rose.
The Gwich'in in Alaska
are in a part of the world with Arctic climates,
and its climate in this environment is rapidly changing.
One of the things that they have lived on that's been essential to their survival is the caribou.
The caribou plays a strong role in tradition subsistence,
and as the weather is changing, as the land is changing,
the Gwich'in are rapidly engaged in vigorously documenting
what they know about the caribou.
They have a rich vocabulary for the parts and the anatomy of the caribou.
Elders have amazing amounts of traditional knowledge
about how the caribou was hunted, ceremonies involved the caribou
so this is a centre of the life ways of the Gwich'in,
and they're working to make sure
that knowledge is there for future generations,
and that knowledge is tied to the language.
But it's not just Alaska,
if we look to the Tohono O'odham in the Sonoran Desert,
what we see is a people
vigorously engaged in traditional food ways,involved in plant activities.
For example, the harvest of the Bahidaj,
the red ripe fruit of the Haashan, of the Saguaro cactus.
People still harvest that fruit
and that fruit's harvest in June
is usually a signal that the rains are coming,
it's an integral part of the calendar of the Tohono O'odham life and traditions.
Tohono O'odham community action is a non-profit,
it's engaged in the language and cultural revitalization,
and making sure these traditional ways of harvesting plants, of planting foods are kept alive.
Ceremonies, traditional games it's all about health and life ways,
and finding that wholeness that's involved in the traditional foods,
in the traditional activities, in the traditional sports.
The O'odham have some of the highest IBD rates in the world
and reclaiming that cultural connection
can allow them to have a healthier path to the future.
It's not just about history, it's about technology,
the Cherokee leaders in digital technology with language.
So right now, thanks to localisation projects
the Cherokee Language Program has with Microsoft, Apple, and Google,
you can text on your iPhone in Cherokee.
The Cherokee have long been leaders in digital language technology:
when Sequoyah invented the writing system, the Cherokee syllabary in the 1800s,
what you soon saw were printing presses
creating a large literature in the Cherokee language,
and a large written tradition.
When the Cherokee were forced out of their traditional lands in the south-east
into what was then Indian territory and became Oklahoma,
one of the things that was quick to happen
was the re-emergence of the printing presses,
and the re-emergence of a printed Cherokee literature.
(voice-over in Cherokee) The little, green lizard sat on a tree limb.
The little green lizard sat on a tree limb
and he would change colours, green and red.
While he sat on the tree limb, he changed colours.
The little lizard was in the grass and his two lizard friends came along,
and they went into the sand.
At best, 200 speakers by the last count, but probably far fewer.
Most of the speakers are in their late 50s or older.
We had Janelle Batis, a speaker in her 30s who was able to speak the language
because her parents did not allow them to speak English in the home.
We had her here on the UT Arlington campus,
and were able to use technology to help
create materials that can be used to teach the language,
and that have been used in culture in language camps
hosted by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.
Technology also allows people to cross the digital divide, cross the world,
on February 21st, we celebrate International Mother Language Day,
a holiday dedicated by UNESCO in honour of Bangla activists
who in 1952, died to get their language recognized with official status.
Would you die for your language? They did. They did.
So now, Rising Voices and Global Voices lead a global social media campaign
to celebrate linguistic diversity, and tweet in your mother language.
And UT Arlington's Native American Languages Lab
was partner on that project,
and so we were very happy to be tweeting and retweeting all the languages of the world,
including Yuchi, just down the street, Cherokee, just down the road,
and Chickasaw, on that day, as well as Gaelic.
Native languages matter. Indigenous languages matter.
And what we see is that tribes in the United States
are languages which are spoken nowhere else other than in the United States,
are having efforts where they're trying to support that language,
and see that those languages survive into the next millennium.
Jessie 'Little Doe' Baird is a Wampanoag woman.
The Wampanoag language had not been spoken for 150 years.
They're the tribe that celebrated that mythical first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrim Indians; perhaps you've heard of it
In the years after that contact, that first contact,
what you saw was a tremendous literature being written in the Wampanoag language.
The Bible, yes, but also lots of documents
deeds, wills, diaries, all kinds of materials were written
and in fact, it may be
the largest corpus of written documents in any Native American language.
The language fell dormant,
and one day Jessie had dreams of her ancestors speaking,
visions that her ancestors were speaking to her in,
it was the language.
And Jessie went and got a Masters in Linguistics, and studied these documents,
and related languages,
and she breathed new life into her language.
She learnt the language, she teaches the language,
and she used the language in the home,
and her little girl is the first native speaker of Wampanoag in 150 years.
The human spirit craves that connection to ancestors,
but the human spirit also has great hope for the future,
and heritage languages allow us to transcend the past and the future,
and to make sure that heritage, that future, that connection to ancestor is always there.
Thank you.




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Zhou Lu 2016 年 1 月 25 日 に公開
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