Saturday, July 29, 2017

Mono-Lingual Cherokee

A lot has been discussed about how to save and revive the Cherokee language.

Some have pointed to a need for textbooks;

Others want videos and movies, songs and video games;
Computer programs and apps.
These are all helpful tools to use along with reviving the language, but they are NOT the means for truly reviving and saving it.

What will save Cherokee language?

None of those things.

The language will be saved when it is used.

What is needed are monolingual Cherokee speakers.

We need communities full of people dedicated to ONLY speaking Cherokee.

Languages DIE when they try to survive by being bi-lingual.
In fact, it is a well known fact that even bilingual-ism does not last long unless this city has a regular flow of monolingual speakers from both languages.

Just look at the history of America and 3rd generation immigrants.  

In almost every wave of immigration, the monolingual parents came here speaking the language of their homelands 
and their children grew up bi-lingual, 
but their grandchildren became English only speakers.

To gauge how healthy, how strong a language really is, we need to look at the percentage of the young people between 16 and 30 who speak it exclusively and who speak it daily. 

Yes, ages 16-30.

Older speakers don't truly contribute to the continuance of the language because they are not raising their young families. 

They can be a resource, but they are no longer the source.

Research has shown us that even a fluent native child when taken into the environment of another dominant language and ceases to use their child hood language will forget every word of their native fluency to the point of their own language even sounding foreign to them.
Younger speakers don't count because that language can be over written if not consistently kept up until the teen and young adult years.  

They may even speak it daily in school or even speak it at home. But if they are out of school, their minority language will all too often never be spoken unless maybe in brief visits at home. 

So, yes, ages 16-30 must be FLUENT speakers. 

Until communities commit to establishing fluent, monolingual speakers ages 16-30, a language, even a strong one, withers away and dies.

Consider what is happening to indigenous languages all over the world.  
Study what is happening to Irish.  
Read about the struggle of native american languages.  

There is ONLY one language that dropped to fewer than 300 speakers that was revived.  

There were very few real speakers.  
But there was a desire to save the Hebrew language.
So, a commitment was made to monolingual-ism. 

This was a HUGE sacrifice for the parents that embarked on their mono-lingual commitment.  
They lost the ability to communicate well with their own children.  
But they knew it was worth it.  They knew it was important.  They willingly made the sacrifice.
Those children were monolingual.  
They married one another and created more monolingual families.  
Today, there are some bilingual speakers of Hebrew, but there are thriving communities of mono-lingual Hebrew speakers.

This is the commitment that is required if Cherokee language is going to not just survive, but thrive.

Mono-lingual families.

Speaking Cherokee Only.

This will be what saves the Cherokee Language.

It will be revived when it is spoken.

So, no, Children speakers under age 16 don't contribute to the health of a language. 

Obviously, they are needed to "grow up" into the 16-30-somethings that speak.  But they are not the be-all and end-all for planning a revival of language.

It is not the children.

Not the second language learners.
Not Bi-lingual Speakers.  

But FLUENT monolingual speakers if the language is to TRULY be a "Living" language.

The ones that survive are the ones that have a community of ages 16-30 that are monolingual, fluent speakers.


[note:  to read more about how Hebrew was revived, check out  

The way it was done CAN be replicated with ANY other language ]

No comments: