Hinton lecture in Canberra 28 March

Sarah Ogilvie Sarah.Ogilvie at anu.edu.au
Tue Feb 28 22:35:27 UTC 2012

All are welcome to a public lecture at ANU by Leanne Hinton, hosted by the Australian National Dictionary Centre and sponsored by the AIATSIS Centre for Australian Languages, on 28 March 2012, 6pm. The lecture will be filmed and uploaded on YouTube. Free registration now open http://reclaimingindigenouslanguages.eventbrite.com/

"Reclaiming Indigenous Languages: the Master Apprentice Language Learning Program for the endangered languages of Australia and North America"
Leanne Hinton (Professor emerita, UC Berkeley, and consulting member of the board, Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival)

28 March 2012, 6-7pm, Finkel Lecture Theatre, ANU, Canberra

What constitutes “saving a language?”  To scholars, it may mean making sure it is well-documented.  But to the people whose languages are disappearing, a language isn’t saved unless people are speaking it again.
Over the last 200 years, the indigenous languages of North America and Australia have been in decline.  Language shift to English and Creoles have meant that many languages have lost all their speakers, and many others are remembered only by a few elders.  Linguists alarmed that these languages could disappear without a trace have thrown great and highly productive energy into documentation.  But over the last couple of decades, indigenous communities have been starting to reclaim their languages in their own way.  The generations who have grown up without their ancestral tongues are searching for ways to learn them and use them again.  One approach, first developed in California, is the Master-Apprentice Language Learning Program, a boot-strap language learning method where elders who know the language and younger adults who want to learn it are trained to immerse themselves in the language while leading their daily lives together.   The goals are to increase oral proficiency and to bring the language back into use again.
Dozens of indigenous communities in the United States and Canada have found this method helpful.  Now Australia is embracing the program as well.  In March 2012, a grant from the Australian government will bring a team of trainers from California for a set of “Training the Trainers” workshops in Alice Springs and in Northwest Australia.  30-40 Australians, both indigenous and non-indigenous, will learn how to train and mentor Master-Apprentice teams, and will hopefully be able to train a hundred teams or so in the coming year.   This presentation will report on the workshops, and discuss how this program may assist the Australian Aboriginal peoples in their quest to save their languages.

Dr Sarah Ogilvie
Australian National Dictionary Centre,
Australian National University,
Canberra 0200, Australia.

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