9 Language 2

What about Indigenous Languages? Why are they disappearing? Why does it matter?

Read through this short article on The World’s Indigenous Languages In Context.

Then in this short video, meet Indigenous Speakers and Learn How They’re Keeping Their Languages Alive

Celebrating Indigenous Languages
A shared language is one of the most important connections among groups of people. Not only does it create a sense of kinship, but it promotes a shared worldview through unique vocabulary and traditional sayings and songs. Yet many of the world’s 7,000 languages are in danger of disappearing; according to the United Nations 2,680 Indigenous languages are at risk.

Indigenous communities around the globe are working to preserve and revitalize their languages by teaching them to future generations and sharing them with non-Indigenous speakers. Here we’ve collaborated with Indigenous language speakers to share traditional greetings, favorite sayings and meaningful songs.

Take the Google Earth Tour around the world.

Answer these questions as you tour the Google Earth Tour of languages

  • Select and listen to three greetings from three speakers. What do you notice? What sounds are new to you?

Describe ways the speakers greet you in their native languages, in addition to saying hello. What phrases or words are used? Describe the similarities and differences between the three speakers.

Expressive or peaceful are words used by some speakers to describe their languages.  What do you hear? Select two languages. What words would you use to describe these languages?

Describe the relationship between a speaker’s language and his/her family. Find an example in one of the greetings, phrases, or songs. How does a language bring family and community closer together?

Provide an example of how speaking in one’s native language gives a person a sense of pride, power, or freedom. In what ways, from the speakers’ perspectives, do these qualities help to define their identities?

“I do this not for myself, but for my children and grandchildren, so that in the future,  they’ll hear our language,” said Dolores Greyeyes Sand, Plains Cree, from Crown Hill,  Saskatchewan, Canada. What are some additional examples of ways the individuals express the importance of passing their languages on to their children and  grandchildren?

What is your favorite greeting or phrase shared by the Indigenous language speakers?  Why? Describe what makes this greeting or phrase unique and why it impacts you.

“We want our people to know our family, identity and language are one. By knowing the language, you understand the culture,” says Rev. Elder Suamalie N TIosefa Naisali,   speaker of Faipati Faka Tuvalu from the Tuvalu Islands in the South Pacific. Why might this be an important message for the world?

In one paragraph, write a response to the following questions.

  • Anthropologist Keith Basso asked, “What can the study of spoken languages reveal  about the shapes and contours of other cultural worlds?” What do you know now about  the relationship between language and culture? How did your perspective shift? In  what ways do the Indigenous language speakers provide you with a new way of seeing  the world? In what ways do their stories add to a more comprehensive global story of  humanity?
  • What new insights or reflections do you have about your own language(s), family,  community, and culture?
  •  Do you know which Indigenous people are the original stewards of the land you live on?  Research to find out the following:
  • The name of the tribe, territory, and language. (Note: You can use the website resource: https://native-land.ca/)
  • Learn a local Indigenous or Native word. What did you learn?


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