LANGUAGE REVIVAL /RECLAMATION
Janet participated in the Waterville, Maine French Reacquisition group led by Julia Schulz from 2001-2003. This group in turn created a French Reacquisition group that has met weekly for the last 12 years, helping to bring French back into the public after its suppression in the 1920s by the Ku Klux Klan. See IMPACT – Si Je Comprends Bien. . . and Réveil–Waking Up French.
LANGUAGE REVIVAL ACTIVITIES
Document Endangered Languages
Build and implement language portals that reintegrate diaspora populations into the main speaker community (TECHNOLOGY)
Research with fluent comprehenders to help them become speakers
Train teachers and implement immersion-based preschool and adult language learning programs (CURRICULUM)
Consult and train for community self-documentation (TRAINING)
Support and facilitate language and cultural revival activities such as community radio
Documenting natural group conversation is important as it offers opportunities for enhanced community participation, which makes the language increasingly visible and valued.
An important catalyst is the awareness raising and motivational impact of video feedback. Group and community presentations using edited documentation to trigger engaged conversations can address the effects of community trauma, increase understanding, commitment, and cooperation, and lead to new grassroots community leadership and program development.
Additional educational resources such as the Endangered Language Portal then become possible. All these elements reinforce cultural identity and pride and increase confidence and advocacy for program development aimed at recovering and stabilizing heritage language use.
A documentary film that addresses causes for language loss and integrates points of view about revival can heal divisions within the community and also create a bridge of understanding and support between the minority community and the dominant culture. (See THE DOCUMENTARY FILM).
We’ve been privileged to play a role in the revival of French-Canadian/Franco-American French communities of New England and Louisiana; the Passamaquoddy-Maliseet communities of Maine and New Brunswick; and the Ayöök, Mixe-speaking communities of Oaxaca, Mexico, as well as filming with the Wampanoag Language Reclamation project. The Louisiana State Legislature has recognized our work, and the Maine State Legislature inducted Ben Levine into the Franco-American Hall of Fame for helping to bring back French in that state.
Endangered Languages, The New Yorker – We read with interest Judith Thurman’s piece on attempts to save dying languages (“A Loss for Words,” March 30th). There’s a quip among workers in New England nursing homes that goes, “They come in speaking English, and they go out speaking gibberish.” [READ MORE]
Passamaquoddy tribe looking to children to preserve language, MPBN – Languages across the world are disappearing as fewer people learn to speak, read, and write the words of their ancestors. [READ MORE]