Archive for Language preservation

Speak Hakka, our Mother Tongue

From the Hakka Affairs Council in Taiwan:


(Source)

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Throw a language party!

Magdalen Kelantumama telling the story Murtankala, The Woman Creator, Tiwi language, Australia, Darwin Fringe Festival, July 2017.

2019 is UN International Year of Indigenous Languages. How do we celebrate linguistic diversity and recognise the people who are keeping endangered languages strong? Inspired by the work of Joanna Macy, we have developed a format for storytelling in the original languages. While listeners don't understand the individual words, they get the message:

Speech does not consist of words alone… it consists of utterance – an uttering-forth of one's whole meaning with one's whole being – the understanding of which involves infinitely more than mere word-recognition. With an emotionally-laden utterance the meaning may be fully grasped even when every word is missed. –Oliver Sacks

And the message isn't just a story to be translated and digested, as though language were merely a tool for communication, and linguistic diversity no more than a barrier to be overcome through translation. Audiences experience Language as art, music, spoken soul. The thread of each story linking us back to the ancestors. Language connecting people to country. Each language a treasure for the whole of humankind. A language's emblematic stock of untranslatable words.

Today, speakers of endangered languages are found in urban centres across the world. This presents an opportunity to gather and listen to them, embrace the diversity in our midst, and create new ways and new places for people to belong. A special reward awaits: we all come to belong in our place in a new way.

The good news is that the world is still home to 4,500 vigorous languages. Celebrate with us, and throw a language party!

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The ethnopolitics of National Language in China

Modern Standard Mandarin (MSM), the official language of the People's Republic of China, is designated in four different ways, depending upon the country in which these terms are used:

Guóyǔ 国语 / 國語 ("National Language") — Taiwan / ROC

Huáyǔ 华语 / 華語 ("Florescent / 'Chinese' Language") — Singapore

Hànyǔ 汉语 / 漢語 ("Sinitic Language") — linguists

Pǔtōnghuà 普通话 / 普通話 ("Common Language") — China / PRC

Although these four designations convey distinct, yet subtle, nuances, linguistically they basically refer to the same language with only minor variations.

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The future of Cantonese, part 2

During the month of May, we witnessed a major flare-up in Hong Kong over the status of Cantonese:

"Cantonese is not the mother tongue of Hong Kongers" (5/4/18) — with references to more than two dozen earlier posts on Cantonese relevant to today's topic; in toto, the number of LLog posts touching on one or another aspect of Cantonese is far greater than those listed at the end of this 5/4/18 post

"Cantonese is not the mother tongue of Hong Kongers, part 2" (5/7/18)

"The Future of Cantonese" (5/27/18)

All of this has prompted Verna Yu to ask "Can Cantonese survive?", America (6/5/18).

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The Future of Cantonese

[This is a guest post by Robert S. Bauer]

HK’s Cantonese language continues to attract attention and be a topic of discussion.

Two Mondays ago (May 14, 2018) I was a guest discussant on RTHK Radio 3's Backchat programme.

The topic was "The Future of Cantonese" (in Hong Kong).

In addition to the two main hosts, Hugh Chiverton and Mike Rowse, the following people joined in the discussion:

Simon Liang, Member, Societas Linguistica Hongkongensis (a group promoting the correct usage of Cantonese)

Peter Gordon, Editor, Asian Review of Books; and Language Critic

Benjamin Au Yeung, TV host and Linguist

Robert Bauer, Honorary Linguistics Professor, University of Hong Kong

Li Hui, University of Hong Kong

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GoFundMe for the Ubykh Dictionary Project

Rhona Fenwick has put up a GoFundMe for the Ubykh Dictionary Project:

My name’s Dr Rhona Fenwick. I’m an archaeologist and linguist who’s spent sixteen years working to document and begin reviving the beautiful, rich, and dying language of the Ubykh people, and I’m humbly asking for your assistance to support me financially while I finish writing the first truly comprehensive Ubykh dictionary.

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Sibe: a living Manchu language

While it is generally acknowledged that Manchu language is nearly extinct, with only a handful of elderly speakers in the original territory of Manchuria, a very close cousin survives in the far northwest of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of the PRC.  This language is called Sibe (MSM transcription Xíbó 锡伯), and it is spoken by about 30,000 individuals among a population of about 200,000 whose ancestors were sent by the Manchu emperor to garrison the region in 1763-1764.  They never returned to their original homeland in the northeast of the empire, but have stayed continuously in the Ili Valley area of Eastern Central Asia (ECA), especially Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County / Chapchal Sibe Autonomous County.  Although the origin of the name "Siberia" is contestedPamela Crossley suggests that the Russians who were moving toward the Pacific named that vast region after the Sibe, who were well known to them.

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Hakka: "Guest families"

Hakka (Kèjiā 客家 ["guest families"]) is the name of a Chinese ethnic group and their language.  Their name refers to the fact that, although they came from the north centuries ago, they are now scattered in various locations throughout South China and, indeed, the world.

Although the Hakka amount to approximately only 4% of the total population of China, their influence on politics, the military, culture, and other spheres of life in the past two centuries has been disproportionately large

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