Texting, cooking or free teaching, whatever works!

According to the United Nations, one indigenous language dies every two weeks, mostly amidst general indifference. That is what almost happened to Hawaiian, a few decades ago, before it was revived. But the battle is not won yet, and Hawaiian has to keep up with the times and be used by young people over the Internet. Unicode already enables most alphabets of the world to be supported, but the major players, like Google, Apple and Microsoft, have to put even more efforts in making more languages available in their software.

In Canada, an Anishinaabe cook has opened free cooking classes to teach native people a healthier way of life, far from the “junk food” which is responsible for obesity and diabetes. The particularity of his classes is that they include language lessons, with common words translated into Anishinaabemowin (also known as Ojibwe).

Yurok language, an indigenous language of an Indian tribe in north California, is also endangered. Efforts are being made for its revitalization, and they include free language classes at the Yurok Visitor’s Center. Course instructor James Gensaw recalls that his auntie used to teach everyday in the classroom until she passed away at the age of 96. “That’s why this language is not extinct,” he said. “(The elders) entrusted the people with this language and they gave us that responsibility.”

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