Foundation for Endangered Languages

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OGMIOS Newsletter # 8 : Spring/Summer - 7 June 1998
Editor: Nicholas D. M. Ostler

Published by:
Foundation for Endangered Languages,
Batheaston Villa, 172 Bailbrook Lane, Bath BA1 7AA, England
e-mail: nostler(at)
Phone: +44/(0) -1225-852865 Fax: +44/(0) -1225-859258

1. Living On - a New Venture for David Crystal 3

2. Development of the Foundation 3
Kagoro: a language transforming into a dialect? 3
FEL Executive Committee Meeting, Linacre College Oxford, 6 June 98, 3pm 5

3. Language Endangerment in the News 6
"At a loss for words" by Stephen Hume : Vancouver Sun, 3 May 1998 6
“English Kills”: Economist, 6 June 1998 6

4. Appeals and News from Endangered Communities 6
Turkish prosecution of Kurdish language 6
South African San Institute looking for sponsors 7
Kosovar Albanians 7
Warao Indian Chief Elected to Venezuelan Academy of Language 10
Medals Of Honor Sought For Native American Code Talkers 10
Mapuches denounce Chilean Government at the UN Human Rights Commission 11
Circle of African Historical Linguists 12
Rights of Roma in Germany: Sinti and Roma warn of "discrimination" 12

5. Allied Societies and Activities 13
Languages in the Southern Kalahari 13
German “Society for Endangered Languages” (Gesellschaft für bedrohte Sprachen e.V.) 14
Anyone for Bannock? 14
Recent Developments in the Support of Scots Gaelic 15

6. Forthcoming FEL Conference: Endangered Languages - What Role for the Specialist?
Edinburgh, 25-27 September 1998 16
Conference Scope and Aims 16
Organizers: 16
Programme Committee: 16
Provisional Programme 17

7. Overheard on the Web 18
Hopi Radio 18
American Indian News from Russia and Mexico 18
Maori and Hawai’ian Language Nests 19
What Language is Revitalized After All? 19
Some Principles for Practical Orthography 20

8. Places to Go, on the Web and in the World 21
The Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights 21
Monument for Dying Languages 21
Numerals 22
Lowland Languages 22
Maltese Language Learning Products 22
African Indigenous Knowledge Systems 22
Western Australian Languages 22
Yukon Native Language Centre 22
SIL-Mexico 22
Mesoamerican languages (“the Snake Jaguar Project”) 22
CyberQuechua 22
Programa de Educacion Intercultural Bilingue para los Paeses Andinos 23
Center for Amazonian Literature and Culture 23

9. Forthcoming Meetings 23
Summer Courses in the Basque Country, 1998 23
Summer Institute of Linguistics at U Oregon June- August 1998: Workshop in Lexicography headed by Russian Africanist 23
33rd International Conference on Salish and Neighboring Languages. University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA: August 5-7, 1998 23
Youth conference on minority languages etc. in Brussels, late August 1998 24
Minority Languages in Context: Diversity and Standardisation: Chur (Switzerland), 21-23
Sept. 1998 24
International Symposium on Natural Sacred Sites, Cultural Diversity and Biological Diversity. UNESCO House, Paris, 22-25 September 1998 25
Third International Conference on Maintenance and Loss of Minority Languages, Netherlands, 26-27 November, 1998 25
2nd International Symposium on Bilingualism 14-17 April, 1999, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK 26
Historical Linguistics Conference At UBC In 1999 26

10. Publications of Interest 27
Malintzin: bilingüismo y alfabetización en la Sierra de Tlaxcala, Norbert Francis, Ediciones Abya-yala, 1997, 508 pages, in Spanish. 27
Repenser l’École 27
The Native Speaker: Multilingual Perspectives, R.Singh, ed., 1998, Sage Publications. 27
Endangered Languages: Current Issues and Future Prospects. Ed. Lenore A. Grenoble and Lindsay J. Whaley. 1998, Cambridge University Press. 27
The Rise and Fall of Languages. R.M.W. Dixon. 1998, Cambridge University Press. (169 pp.) 27

11. Obituaries 28
IN MEMORIAM: Floyd Lounsbury 28
MARSH LANGUAGES, by Margaret Atwood 28
Manifesto 29

Our picture above is an inscription in the Rongorongo script of Easter Island, and is taken from the fascinating web page of Sergei Ryabchikov, who presents evidence that he has deciphered to the script. He writes:

Using the methods of structural linguistics… the author ... managed to obtain the interpretation of many words referring to the Old Rapanui vocabulary. It was proved that "Apai" is an ancient sacral text telling of the god Tiki and the goddess Hina living every six months on the island and the rest time in the heaven, they floating into the heaven in a boat. It was proved unambiguously that the first month was Maru(a) (modern Maro), the beginning of which had been linked by the Easter Islanders with the appearance of the Pipiri star in the sky. I restored the ancient religious terms, particularly, the availability of two priest classes -- tuhunga and taura -- was proved. This fact brings together the structure of the Easter Island society and other Polynesian societies. The epithets of the gods derived earlier from reading of the tablets were given in this text.

The Rapanui language currently has about 2,500 speakers. (Ethnologue XIII, 1996)