Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Gorgeous Maine

I have a rather crappy digital camera, so my pics, as you may have noticed, are not too great. But I took some pics of rural Maine yesterday as I did a little tour about an hour's drive northeast of Portland up to Georgetown. The title of this post says it all: Maine is beautiful! Most of Maine is very rural, looking much like the following pics.

I definitely would like to come back and spend more time in Maine.

I am now back in Boston.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Kudos to US ambassador for singing in indigenous language

I was pleased to hear that a Native South American language, Guarani, and a US ambassador recently made headlines:

The US ambassador to Paraguay has become a music sensation in the country after recording an album of folk songs in the indigenous Guarani language. "What I've been trying to do is show respect for Paraguay and for its culture," James Cason told the BBC. Proceeds from the album sales are going to fund English-language grants for poor Paraguayan students. Mr. Cason's efforts have been well received, although one politician grumbled about his pronunciation. Mr. Cason's songs have been playing on the radio and listeners have been enthusiastic, he says. "I think they're just amazed and delighted that someone would take the time to learn a language which is probably harder than Chinese," said Mr. Cason, who leaves Paraguay, his final posting, on 2 August.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Tômwihtawush uyôtowawôk.
Save the language. (Mohiks - Mohegan)

As usual these days, it has been a while since my last entry. So far it’s been a busy summer as a research assistant working with data on the Southwest Monguor language of Tongren, China, a Mongolic language with which I had no prior familiarity. The language has a Mongolic base with infusions of Tibetan (primarily through the practice of Buddhism) and Chinese (the dominant nationality and culture).

As for my own research, in a few weeks I will be making a trip to Boston from where I will drive down to southeastern Connecticut to the Mohegan (Mohican) reservation, home of the popular Mohegan Sun Casino. I will be spending a few days with the tribal linguist to gather data on the Mohegan language (Eastern Algonquian), which has been “sleeping” since 1908. They have a language revitalization program in place (click here to learn more), and classes are being taught. I will be working on Mohegan for my PhD dissertation, and thus indirectly assisting in the efforts of their language revitalization program. On this trip, I will also be driving up to Portland, Maine to meet the only living speaker of Penobscot, another “sleeping” Eastern Algonquian language. I hope to gain some insight from Penobscot data to assist in the Mohegan revitalization efforts. Needless to say, the idea of assisting in the Mohegan Nation's language revitalization efforts is exciting!

I also recently attended the Siouan and Caddoan Linguistics Conference (SCLC) in Joplin, Missouri. It was a good opportunity to spend time with fellow Siouanists and meet some Native Americans of the Omaha, Ioway-Otoe, Osage, and Hochunk (Winnebago) nations, all involved in their own language revitalization efforts in various stages of progress. Despite my upcoming new adventures in Eastern Algonquian, I still continue my efforts in preparing a revised Biloxi (Siouan) dictionary and ethnography. I also recently submitted an article of a translated Rumsen Ohlone (Penutian) text to the Journal of Folklore Research, which is still under review and which I hope will get published.