Keeping Hopi Alive

Aug 17 2012 @ 5:12pm

Endangered-languages-625x329

by Gwynn Guilford

Alexis Hauk describes how radio programming is bringing dying languages to younger audiences:

Following centuries of oppression that have marginalized minority languages, radio represents a modest but surprisingly promising way to reinvigorate the traditions keeping those languages alive. In the Maori community of New Zealand, for example, the combination of 21 radio stations and rigorous early childhood immersion programs have brought Maori-languages speakers from an all-time low of 24,000 in the 1980s to 131,000 in 2006, according to Mark Camp, deputy executive director at Cultural Survival. "If you don't have some sort of media—and radio is the best in our opinion—to counterbalance the predominant commercial media that is all in Spanish or in English, it makes language less of a modern, living thing. It becomes something that you might do with your grandparents."

Though they're behind New Zealand and Ireland, efforts in the US helping Cherokee and Hopi as well.

(Image from FlowingData, capturing the fascinating interactive map of endangered languages on the Endangered Languages Project site.)