ELL: small but positive steps

Peter Constable Peter_Constable at SIL.ORG
Thu May 2 16:09:50 UTC 2002

One of my colleagues was recounting for me a couple of days ago his
experiences with one of his Lahu co-workers and another potential Lahu
co-worker he recently met in the US. He was comparing how much more
linguistically aware the fellow he had just met was than what he has
typically encountered with the others he has worked with.

But then, he had brought his regular co-worker into one of his discourse
classes to act as a consultant for the students, and afterward, the Lahu
co-worker spoke with him. The experience had given him a better
understanding of the kinds of research questions my colleague had been
asking him. The key point that I want to highlight, though, is this: one of
the things the Lahu man said to my colleague, eyes wide with revelation,
was this: "We have a real language, don't we?" Since then, he has been
spreading the word through his community that they have a real language.

I know these stories happen often -- at least, I have heard similar
accounts from many of my colleagues. Talking to my friend the other day was
just an encouraging reminder that, while many factors combine to create
serious threats for the world's endangered languages, there are also lots
of situations, many that aren't as noticeable, in which speakers of
endangered languages are growing in confidence and pride in their own
language. And those are important steps toward language viability.

This may seem trivial, but I was encouraged, and wanted to share that
encouragement with others.

- Peter

Peter Constable

Non-Roman Script Initiative, SIL International
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Rd., Dallas, TX 75236, USA
Tel: +1 972 708 7485
E-mail: <peter_constable at sil.org>

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