Friday, 20 May 2011

Children's book aims to save dying Alaskan language

Children's book aims to save dying Alaskan language

The Guardian Reports on the Tlingit children's book Aanka Xóodzi ka Aasgutu Xóodzi Shkalneegi.

The book was originally written in English by Ernestine Hayes (Author of Blonde Indian: An Alaska Native Memoir, and translated. It was inspired by The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse.

The article mentions the challenges of "translating an oral language into text", and that first language Tlingit speakers are often literate in English, but not Tlingit.

According to the article, the translation appears to take a purist approach, stating that:

... there are no words for cars, bear-proof garbage cans, bird feeders or hamburgers in the pre-contact Tlingit language. With the story following the adventures of a forest bear visiting his relative in town, the translators had to find their way around these issues; the bears are chased through town in "the thing that drives around", for example.

Free copies are being provided to Alaskan schools, and an Audio version, read by elders, is due out soon.

At the time I write this, it is notable none of the Reader Comments on the Guardian post are negative.

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