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2009/12/19 M.S. Soderquist <[log in to unmask]>:
>
> I think that we are probably more keenly aware than most people that
> language is a community activity. (This just sort of slaps you in the face
> when you are the only person who knows your language.) I can learn an
> endangered language-- probably pretty imperfectly at my age -- but unless I
> can participate meaningfully in that language's community or spawn a new
> community of speakers, it's nothing more than hobby, just like making up
> entirely new languages.


I happen to be lucky enough to have a cultural connection to an
endangered language: My husband is Potawatomi, and we've been studying
together Bodewadmimwen (the Potawatomi language).  From my experience
I have to sadly agree that it isn't especially helpful to an
endangered language for it to be studied by random unconnected
strangers.  To survive a language needs more than just someone
somewhere knowing something about it; it needs to be known by those
people to whom it's culturally important, who can restore it to its
proper place.  Of course it may be possible to forge a meaningful
connection with speakers of an endangered language-- forming a
friendship with a speaker could work-- but just studying the language
as a dead object from a distance won't help.  Language needs not just
students but conversation, communication.

I've noticed this too in attempting to bring conlangs to life: It's
not enough at all to have people who are interested in studying it.
They also have to have a conversation.  The imperative of
communication, of having things you need to say and needing to
understand what others are saying, is what pushes you through the long
struggle of language learning.


<3,
la stela selckiku
aka
mungojelly
aka
bret-ram
aka
brett