ELL: clarification about SIL from an external point of view

Matthew McDaniel akha at loxinfo.co.th
Fri Mar 19 11:38:17 UTC 1999

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			 Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1999 18:38:17 +0700
			 From: Matthew McDaniel <akha at loxinfo.co.th>
			 Organization: The Akha Heritage Foundation
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			 Subject: Re: ELL: clarification about SIL from an
			 external point of view
			 owner-endangered-languages-l at carmen.murdoch.edu.au
			 endangered-languages-l at carmen.murdoch.edu.au


			 Thankyou for your points.

			 I have not been attacking linguists as a group. That
			 is not my intention.
			 I have been challenging the status quo as to how
			 "endangered" is looked
			 at and
			 how the minority languages are mined in many ways for
			 credential that those
			 people do not share in.  It is an intellectual
			 property right of their group.
			 In the case of Akha I know several people who are
			 majoring in studies of the
			 Akha, and the Akha get nothing out of it, although it
			 takes enormous
			 generosity on
			 their part to provide the information.  I can
			 document in case over case where
			 it has been implied to the people that some good
			 would come to them if they
			 gave time and information. It usually doesn't.

			 I myself have turned away numerous people who wanted
			 to follow this
			 route with
			 the Akha.

			 1.  I have said that there needs to be more ambitious
			 effort to
			 establish an ethic
			 regarding endangered languages and peoples.

			 2.  I have said that there needs to be a wholehearted
			 increase in the
			 equaling of
			 the balance of money spent on the study of endangered
			 languages to the
			 side of
			 getting language materials into those very

			 I live here in northern Thailand on just about

			 In the meanwhile I deliver services and linguistic
			 materials and books
			 to the

How is it that people located in the west, cannot glean more money to assist
these efforts and that doesn't mean that it has to be mine.  Why can't
linguistic departments be doing something so simple as specific fundraising
projects that their students put on for a language that they want to adopt?

In the last year alone I have had numerous people contact me about this work
and in regards to similar difficulties that  they find in a language
that they
are working on.

So I am not attacking linguists.  I may be attacking some things they stand
for.  But my focus is constructive change that will increase the funding and
aid to endangered language communities.

We need computers here at this work, other people I know have the same
challenge.  What if people at Universities of all places got an angle at
computers being replaced and disgarded.  Just yesterday we were able to
get 5
used Apple II LC's.  Two of them work.  They are not a modern device, but
they allow some of the writers to speed production.

Do you know what an Apple II LC costs in the west now?

Someone will probably pay you to haul it away.

If I managed to create a shift in resources so that more went to these
languages would anyone fault me?
Am I asking that something bad occur?

I have said that a lot of money is collectively represented in linguistics
work, and if people were mindful of this the balance could be shifted.  People
may not find that particularly pleasant, but maybe it is just a controversial
idea, I hope that isn't all my fault.

It would be good if people went back and read a year's worth of my emails.
Maybe not the most eloquent, well I hardly work under those conditions.

But one will see that I have repeatedly pointed to the link that SIL as
supported by American Evangelicals, with its two faces, the Wycliffe one being
presented in the churches, the SIL one presented in the Universities.

It is American Mission policy, individually or collectively that makes
philosophies like what dominate the American Baptist, Presbyterians,
Pentacostals and many other groups here, mostly white middle America
people (
I only saw one Black missionary here in 8 years) come here to save these
people from themselves.

There is NO EXCUSE for the culturally superior attitudes that are heavily
racially biased that are packaged with American Mission practices.  They are
colonizing with culture, it has very little to do with the teachings of Jesus

On the Endangered Language List the conversation might go linked like this.

Endangered Languages
Things which endanger them
Americans and their attitudes.
(Not to say that even a majority of Americans believe like their missionaries
do, most are quite against it.)

I have specifically confronted and battled the American driven
missionaries on
this end right out in the villages at great expense and danger to
myself.  I
have been repeatedly smeared and have had the most severe of accusations
leveled at me which you would definitely find yourself in court for if you
accused someone falsely of such in the US.

To protect myself I have had to spend no little time knowing what was
going on
inside some of the US based missions.

I have had the Akha threatened if they got involved with our literacy program
and I have encountered many Christians who said I must not be Christian
if I
challenged the American Missionaries.

Quite frankly the American Missionaries divided up who would go to what group
of people here and they feel they own the hill tribe.

Doing anything good for them licenses them to wipe out these people's cultures
by strictly forbidding them to practice it.

Someone on this listed stated that requiring the removal of the Akha gates
didn't happen.  Well, we can argue all night wether Paul Lewis did require
this or not, and I can go to the trouble to get the video interviews of
witnesses to gate destruction, but the main point is that this practice is
still going on.

In a recent discussion with someone associated with an evangelistic team from
Asian Outreach, I asked them specifically if included in their work with the
Akha would be the requirement that the gates came down?  They said as
far as
they knew it would be required.

So it keeps going on, though everyone claims to not know who is doing
it, well
in most cases it is the American Protestants that are doing this.

I however disagree that it can not be stopped.  I think it must be
stopped.  I
work for it every day.

So that is why I point to the link, Liguists and an ethic, linguists working
with SIL/Wycliffe, SIL's track record, the American Missions they are involved
with and so forth.

Sure I am a pain in the ass, but this addressing of the issue is because
I am
faced with the damage it is doing to the Akha and their langauge in the
village every day.

No one should be apposed to an ethic for linguists.
No one should mind if it is directly connected to the UN Draft on Indigenous

The result would be that people might exercise some restraint on some of these
issues where there is an awful lot of carelessness at best now, regarding
relationships to people of endangered languages and cultures.

By the way, if Paul Lewis does come on line, I would like very much to
ask him
why there wasn't and still isn't any follow up medical care for the
women who
were sterilized who are still alive and still have problems.

Some people are of the mindset that when you sterilize a woman, "voluntarily"
or not, that you are messing with a whole lot more than just a "tiny little

Matthew McDaniel



Matthew McDaniel
The Akha Heritage Foundation
386/3 Sailom Joi Rd
Maesai, Chiangrai, 57130
Mobile Phone Number:  Sometimes hard to reach while in Mountains.
01-881-9288  when in Thailand
66-1-881-9288  when out  Thailand

Web Site:
mailto:akha at loxinfo.co.th

US Address:

Donations by check or money order may be sent to:

The Akha Heritage Foundation
1586 Ewald Ave SE
Salem OR 97302

Donations by direct banking:

In the US can be transfered to:

Wells Fargo Bank
Akha Heritage Foundation
Acc. # 0081-889693
Keizer Branch
Keizer, Oregon, USA

Outside the US:

Matthew Duncan McDaniel
Bangkok Bank Ltd
Acc.# 3980240778
Maesai Branch

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