Shí éí … yinishyé
Welcome to this week’s post!
As you can see I have been practicing my linguistic skills and learning Navajo!
But first, let me give you a quick history lesson on the unique languages that bind us together as a culture, a community and as citizens of the world. With around 195 countries in the world, there are certainly a lot of languages we can learn. However, what makes it more interesting is when we start looking at the languages used by the indigenous people around the world. Did you know that at the time of first European contact, there were more than 300 North American Indian languages !
Sadly, around 123 of those languages no longer have native speakers (those who use it as their first language). While looking for more information, check out this cool non-profit that is trying to get all the information on these languages in one place.
Ready for some fun facts? Did you know that quite a few US State names are derived from the local languages spoken by the Native Americans who lived there?
Here are some examples:
Named after the Alibamu tribe of Indians who were members of the Creek Confederacy. Literally, it means “clears the thicket.”
Derived from one of three sources and meaning one of three things:
- Comanche “Idahi”
- Shoshone “ee-dah-how” which means something like “Good Morning”
- Salmon River Tribe of Indians “Ida” means salmon and “ho” means tribe so we might be saying “Salmon eaters”.
From the Chippewa Indian word “Michigama” meaning “large lake.”
Speaking of the importance of these languages, I am sure that all of you have also heard about the ‘Code Talkers’ – Native Americans who used their traditional tribal languages to develop coded messages that were impossible to decipher.
Sounds like a great idea to use on my dad, huh?! How about – Navi sends Invez T. Gator on a code quest!!
- Sioux code talkers of World War II – Andrea Page
- The Navajo Code Talkers – J. Patrick Lewis
- Fearless flyers, dazzle painters and code talkers! : World War I – Elizabeth Dennis
Until next time, Nizhónígo ch’aanidíínaał (Bon Voyage!)