A language community is the group of people
who speak or are descendents of people who speak a particular
language. A language community often crosses political and social boundaries.
For example, the South Slavey language community includes First Nation and
Metis people from northern Alberta, northern British Columbia, and the
An activist is someone who is willing to
take direct action in order to achieve a certain goal. Language activists are
people who actively promote and practice language retention and revival
Culture refers to the way we live that makes
us different or special from other groups of people. Our culture includes many
things what we eat, what we wear, how we make a living, our ceremonies,
our art, our laws, etc. An important element of culture is what we believe
how we understand the world what we value in life. The most
important way we express our culture is through our language, so culture and
language are very closely linked.
A dialect is a slight variation in wording
or pronunciation in a language that often results from geographical
differences. For example, Lutselk'e uses the "k" dialect of Chipewyan while
Fort Resolution uses the "t" dialect. The language is still Chipewyan, but the
word water translates as either ku or tu, depending on the dialect.
Fluency refers to our ability to understand and speak a
language. A person who understands and speaks a language well is considered
fluent in the language. Passive fluency is when someone understands a language
but does not speak it (or is shy about speaking it). Literacy is the ability to
read and write a language.
Home language is the language that we normally speak in
our own home.
to Mother Tongue Ratio
Many Aboriginal adults in the Northwest
Territories learned a traditional language as their first language when they
were children. This language is their mother-tongue. Then, for a variety of
reasons, they switched to English as they grew up and now speak English at home
to their own children.
English is now their home
language. If 100 people learned Gwich'in as their mother tongue, but only 17
still use Gwich'in at home with their own children, the home-to-mother-tongue
ratio is 17 to 100 or 17%. This means that 83% of Gwich'in children are not
learning their language at home today.
Inter-Generational "Mother Tongue" Language
Our mother-tongue is the language we first learn as
children. Inter-generational mother tongue language transmission means that
grandparents and parents talk to their children in their traditional Aboriginal
language so that the children learn the language naturally at home. This is the
only way that languages were taught for thousands of years and it
Retention and Revitalization
Language retention means to hold on
to (or retain) one's language. Language revitalization means to breathe new
life into a language to have it grow and expand.
Language shift refers to a change in the use of the
language. If elders still speak their traditional language but their
grandchildren do not, then language shift has occurred.
Linguists are people who study the
development and structure of languages. Linguists can help people study and
document their language in order to help preserve it, especially if a language
is being lost.
To mobilize something is to get it
moving. Community mobilization means getting many individuals and organizations
in a community to actively commit themselves to a special task or goal
such as language revitalization.
Strategic planning refers to planning that is done in
times of instability or rapid change. If the future was predictable, people
would do long-range planning they would know what changes lie ahead. In
the north today with unsettled land claims, self-government
negotiations, constitutional changes, economic uncertainty, etc. all
planning is strategic. Strategic planning must be more creative and flexible
and must allow for constant evaluation and quicker