Language Revitalization Upgrade: Examples from the Itelmen Community

Lead Author Tatiana, Degai
Institution Contact Council of Itelmen People "Tkhsanom", Community House of Kovran, 50 Let Oktyabrya st. 17, Kovran, Tigilskii Rayon, Kamchatka, Russia
Theme Theme 3: Local and Traditional Knowledge
Session Name 3.3 Vulnerability and resilience of Northern Languages: ways to move forward
Datetime Fri, Sep 16, 2016 10:30 AM - 10:45 AM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text The topic of language revitalization and the use of technology has been widely discussed over the last decades. This area offers various examples of its effectiveness and provides advice on setting up language revival with support of contemporary technology and mass media. While there is a common understanding that these new instruments cannot revitalize indigenous languages and offer a “quick fix” to the issue of language endangerment, it is strongly believed that this might be a powerful tool for moving forward language revitalization. These tools have become popular among indigenous language activists, linguists, programmers in the form of language apps, radio stations, TV channels and even dubbing famous movies and cartoons.
Severely endangered Itelmen language is no exception. Since 1980s language activists and specialists worked on revitalizing Itelmen language. As a result Itelmen developed a writing system, published a dictionary, textbooks, and now have language lessons at school and in the kindergarten. Despite all these hard efforts, no new speakers appeared in a long time. There are currently 5 fluent speakers of Itelmen remain who are over 70 years old. Therefore the issue of language revitalization remains open. With just a few speakers left urgent measures should be undertaken.
Over the recent years, indigenous youth has become aware of this problem and express their interest in learning their ancestral language. In order to support their efforts and the efforts of the community, language activists started introducing technology as a tool for learning Itelmen language. This presentation will share examples of the use of Itelmen Karaoke DVD, WhatsApp smartphone application, and some other initiatives that have been implemented to upgrade the development of Itelmen language.
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