Endangered Languages in Museum

Margaret Ann Noodin noodin at UWM.EDU
Fri Aug 30 16:35:25 UTC 2013

Ah!  What a relief to hear others find the coffin scary.  I can see the power of the metaphor but if this display is for children at your museum I hope coffins are not familiar to them (as they might be for some children in the world right now).  

Have you considered the metaphor of the children themselves?  Or of something comforting?  Maybe a rocking chair with words painted all over it?  Or a swing with words entwined in the ropes that hold it up?  Or a rocket ship to the stars built of panels with different phrases from earth?

For any of those I would be happy to contribute something in Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe). 

Here is a poem of mine which is also a song. Feel free to use words, lines or the entire poem. Let me know if you would like an MP3 of the audio.

No matter what you do - keep us posted and thanks for sharing a concern for languages with the public!

Waawaatese by Margaret Noodin

Aanii ezhi pagozi dibikgiizis? / How does moonlight taste?

Aanii ezhi noodin pagwad / How much does the wind weigh?

Aanii ezhi ezhichigeyaamba / What do I need to do

Ji-nsostaawaag waawaateseg / to understand the fireflies?

Jiimaanan ina n'ga pagadanan giizhigong / Throw kisses or canoes to heaven?

Maage mikzhaweyaanh gdo'wiikweodenong / Or row to a heart's shore?

N'wii bodewaadiz gonemaa / Perhaps I will set myself alight

Miidash tonaanan shkodensan shpemsigong / then place the flames in the sky

Anongziibike minajiwong dibikong / making a river flowing through night

Miidash wii baashkaazoying dibishko / where explosions echo

Zaagigaabaag ziigwaning. / the bursting leaves of Spring.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Austin" <pa2 at SOAS.AC.UK>
Sent: Thursday, August 29, 2013 11:56:21 PM
Subject: Re: Endangered Languages in Museum

Will there be a day when this death and dying metaphor can be put to rest? A coffin? My goodness, can't we be a little bit more creative? And a little bit more sensitive? 

How about sharing some lessons from communities working to revitalise their languages? There are lots of games, apps and other fun interactive things for kids to do that are freely available on the internet now. Put a nice package of them together and sensitise the kids to how languages are threatened but communities are responding to strengthen their languages. You could start by looking at www.firstvoices.com and moving on from there. 

That's my 2p worth. 

Peter Austin 

On Friday, 30 August 2013, Lena Terhart < lena.terhart at gmx.de > wrote: 
> Dear Colleagues, 
> the UNIKATUM children's museum in Leipzig, Germany, is preparing an exhibition on language ( http://www.kindermuseum-unikatum.de/papperlapapp.html in German). I thought it would be nice to present language endangerment as part of the exhibition and together with the responsible people of the museum, we are now thinking about one exhibit, probably a coffin that shall be filled with words that may die out. 
> In order to present a big variety of endangered languages, I would like to ask you to contribute with 
> - a list of max. 5 words in the endangered language (basic vocabulary, something that may be interesting for children, e.g. animals, plants, natural phenomena, or maybe also simple verbs) 
> - in the orthographic convention you use 
> - together with a translation 
> - and some basic info about the geographic location and number and age of speakers or alternatively a link to your website where I can find the information 
> Additionally, photographs of the speakers and/or environment could be very nice, and ideally also recordings of the words (MP3), but that is not a requisite - I know that the search for individual words and cutting process may be too time-consuming. 
> The mounting of the exhibition will start on the 16th of september already so that I need the word lists until the 13th latest. 
> Thanks! 
> Lena 

Prof Peter K. Austin 
Marit Rausing Chair in Field Linguistics 
Director, Endangered Languages Academic Programme 
Research Tutor and PhD Convenor 
Department of Linguistics, SOAS 
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square 
London WC1H 0XG 
United Kingdom 

web: http://www.hrelp.org/aboutus/staff/index.php?cd=pa 

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