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Hawaii_Jake's avatar

What indigenous languages are spoken around where you live? Can you give us something from that language?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (32865points) December 26th, 2009

European culture spread over a great part of the globe taking its languages with them. One way indigenous people hold on to their culture is through the perpatuation of language.

Here in Hawaii, the local culture has seen a resurgence over the past decade with the advent of many Hawaiian immersion schools and other programs.

People who move here soon find their own speech containing scattered Hawaiian words, because they make more sense for the situation. A great example is giving directions. We say to head mauka or makai, which is toward the mountain or the sea. On an island, traditional ideas of north, south, east, and west have less meaning. But it’s plain which way the mountains and which way the sea lies.

What about your area? Any similarities?

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9 Answers

rooeytoo's avatar

In Kakadu National Park where I live which covers an area of 4894000 acres, very little of which is inhabited, there are 6 languages spoken by a population of approximately 500 indigenous people. The languages sound very harsh to my ears, more consonants than vowels and difficult pronounciation. Kunwinjku is the predominant language in my area. The kids are always trying to teach me words but I’m not particularly good at picking them up, then they laugh at me and I tell them I have a lazy tongue and how wonderful they are to know so many different languages. I do know gamuk means good! We have adopted the aboriginal way of thinking about the seasons, no summer, fall etc. instead it is the wet and the dry, but those english words are used. There are many projects around to keep the languages alive and most of the kids still look upon english as their 2nd language. I am not sure if that is a good thing.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

The Blackfeet people are the indigenous people of Northern Montana, USA and Southern Alberta, Canada

Here is one of their stories,

The buffalo rock, as called by the Blackfeet Indians, was usually a fossil shell of some kind, picked up on the prairie. Whoever found one was considered fortunate, for it was thought to give a person great power over buffalo. The owner put the stone in his lodge, near the fire, and prayed over it. This story reveals not only the use of such a rock, but also a common method of hunting buffalo before the Indians had horses.

The Buffalo Rock

There was once a very poor woman, the second wife of a Blackfeet. Her buffalo robe was old and full of holes; her buffalo moccasins were worn and ripped. She and her people were camped not far from a cliff that would be a good place for a buffalo drive. They were very much in need of buffalo, for they were not only ragged but starving.

One day while this poor woman was gathering wood, she heard a voice singing. Looking around, she found that the song was coming from a buffalo rock. It sang, “Take me. Take me. I have great power.”

So the woman took the buffalo rock. When she returned to her lodge, she said to her husband, “Call all the men and have them sing to bring the buffalo.”

“Are you in earnest?” her husband asked.

“Yes, I am,” the woman replied. “Call the men, and also get a small piece of the back of a buffalo from the Bear Medicine man. Ask some of the men to bring the four rattles they use.”

The husband did as his wife directed. Then she showed him how to arrange the inside of the lodge in a kind of square box with some sagebrush and buffalo chips. Though it was the custom for the first wife to sit next to her husband, the man directed his second wife to put on the dress of the other woman and to sit beside him. When everything was ready, the men who had been summoned sat down in the lodge beside the woman and her husband. Then the buffalo rock began to sing, “The buffalo will all drift back. The buffalo will all drift back.”

Hearing this song, the woman asked one of the young men to go outside and put a great many buffalo chips in line. “After you have them in place, wave at them with a buffalo robe four times, and shout at them in a singsong. At the fourth time, all the buffalo chips will turn into buffaloes and go over the cliff.”

The young man followed her directions, and the chips became buffaloes. At the same time, the woman led the people in the lodge in the singing of songs. One song was about the buffalo that would lead the others in the drive. While the people were chanting it, a cow took the lead and all the herd followed her. They plunged over the cliff and were killed.

Then the woman sang,

More than a hundred buffalo
Have fallen over the cliff.
I have made them fall.
And the man above the earth hears me singing.
More than a hundred buffalo
Have fallen over the cliff.

And so the people learned that the rock was very powerful. Ever since that time, they have taken care of the buffalo rock and have prayed to it.

randomness's avatar

The people originally living where I do spoke a few languages. I’m not sure what any of those languages were called. Hardly anyone speaks them anymore, except for very old Aboriginals. Lots of place names come from those languages though.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

In northern New England there are only a few descendants of the original Algonquin tribes left and very few speak any of their original language.

XOIIO's avatar

Here in Canada our language changes based on the weather. In the summer we speak Canadianese (Ex. What;s up,eh? And No way,eh?). Basically we put the ending “eh” at the end of most sentences, but only when we speak, not typing. In the winter we speak Slurrese. The slurring of the words happens because our spit turns to slush and ice because of the cold. There is no way to describe this way of speaking, you have to hear it yourself. There are of course exceptions, such as in Vancouver, where it never gets cold enough for Slurrese, and in Toronto they are too busy freakng out from the centimeter of snow to speak to eachother, and quite a few people get in car crahes.

Esteban's avatar

Around here a language similar to English is spoken. I live 10 miles north east of Seattle.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@rooeytoo : While it may be remote, it must be an amazing place to live.

@Dr_Lawrence : Thank you for that wonderfull tale!

to everyone: Thanks for the answers.

Berserker's avatar

French is spoken most times here, although in bigger cities like Montréal there’s a lot of English.

That said, despite Québec being originally founded by the French, the French language changed a whole lot over here, and don’t even try reminding anyone here that their language is originally from France.

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