Thursday, June 16, 2005

Trying To Save Northwest Coast Indian Language

There are only about 300 descendants of a Northwest Coast Indian group in western Canada who still speak Nuuchahnulth. But almost no young people know the ancient language. Now, after 5,000 years, the Nuuchahnulth language will finally get its own dictionary. The dictionary was compiled by Dr. John Stonham and was created with help from current speakers plus notes from linguist Edward Sapir taken almost a century ago. The dictionary has 7,500 entries for the complex language. "Entire sentences can be built up into a single word," Dr. Stonham said. "But there are also some concepts that can be encapsulated in a single syllable. A single sound describes the state of remaining in seclusion when the husband goes out to hunt, for example." Stoneham hopes the dictionary will help Nuuchahnulth survive by aiding language teachers in the Northwest Coast region.

To see more information on the region's culture, see Northwest Coast Indian Art Articles.

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