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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wukchumni Language (Marie's Dictionary)

(Tule River Tribe Official Website)
no copyright infringement intended

Throughout the United States, many Native American languages are struggling to survive. According to Unesco, more than 130 of these languages are currently at risk, with 74 languages considered “critically endangered.” These languages preserve priceless cultural heritage, and some hold unexpected value — nuances in these languages convey unparalleled knowledge of the natural world.

I read in today's NY Times an op-doc telling the story of Marie Wilcox, the last fluent speaker of the Wukchumni language, creator of a Wukhumni/English dictionary. It is a wonderful story, about an admirable woman fighting for her native language against all odds: against age, against poverty, against the unknowns in using computer. Fighting against all this and overcoming them, with hard work and splendid genuineness.

Along with the text there is a short documentary. Author of the text and of the short movie is Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee, a filmmaker and musician living in California. The titles of his other films look very interesting (like Laugh Clown Laugh, like Youkon Kings, like Isle of Jean Charles). I would like to know more about them. Actually, as I was writing this, I just found the Isle of Jean Charles. I will come back to it.

For now, you should read his op-doc about Marie Wilcox and the Wukhumi language:

Marie's Dictionary
a documentary by Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee
(video published by NY Times)

(Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee)



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