Revitalizing the Hawaiian language

The podcast story “Meet the last native speakers of Hawaiian” is a fascinating story about how to revitalize a language that almost (but not quite) went out of existence. The story of Hawaii and the Hawaiian language probably shares some elements in common with the story of many Native American languages and nations/cultures/tribes. The story of Hawaii is interesting because, despite the efforts to squelch the language from existence, there still remain pockets where the language is still spoken. Similar to the story of Myaamia, a concerted effort by community-based linguists and collective support from the community was crucial. The efforts are successful in that many kids grow up knowing how to speak Hawaiian because they go to Hawaiian-language primary schools. With the basic step solved, the next-step problems take its place.
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Reviving the Miami language from the dead

The podcast story “How the Miami Tribe got its language back” is really fascinating. The Myammia (“Miami”) tribe and language lost its last speaker decades ago. The story of how and why the language went out of usage is not pleasant, but worth knowing. Regardless, thanks to the work of early linguists during the time when the language was spoken, there were historical records of the language (vocab, pronunciation, and perhaps grammar). Thanks to the interest of a Myammia descendent, a linguist, and a seed amount of resources, a lot of work coalesced in reviving the language into something that is spoken by a few hundred people on some basis. For a language that had completely died decades ago, that’s remarkable. Hearing the full story is worth it, especially for certain tidbits that do not appear in the written article. For example, students came from distant, disparate regions to learn the Myammia language at Miami University (OH), but there was not as much speaking among the students outside of the class as they hoped. It remained mainly an academic exercise of second-language learning. The big spark happened when they introduced a new class to the curriculum that also taught the history and traditions of the Myammia. There was a huge upsurge in usage and attachment to the language as a sense of identity took root among the learners.

Google Design blog post on Indian language fonts

The new post from the Google Design blog entitled “The New Wave of Indian Type” is very interesting. The differences already noticeable in the examples of Tamil fonts in the blog post is already striking. And the blog post, of course, is showcasing fonts with open-source licenses and encouraging people to use them as starting points to create their own. I like these ideas very much.
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