PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Mi’kmaq language keepers John Dennis and Maynard Marshall meet each Tuesday on the tribal elder home to show their expertise, particularly to different tribe members, hoping to maintain this a part of their tradition alive.
Some individuals convey their infants to the category to allow them to hear the language being spoken, they usually all take what they’ve realized again to their very own households.
Academics tried to instill the Mi’kmaq language and maintain it flowing so it wouldn’t be misplaced when Dennis was rising up in Nova Scotia, he mentioned. That need for preservation prompted Bangor Excessive Faculty to pilot a Native language course this spring. Faculty officers selected Dennis to show the course and hope someday to incorporate it as an everyday providing.
Mi’kmaq language revitalization efforts like this one goal to protect Native tradition and identification. Historically the Mi’kmaq language was realized at residence, spoken among the many members of the family, Dennis mentioned. However in the present day, Native languages in North and Central America are slowly dying as a result of there aren’t many individuals talking the languages and passing them on to the youthful technology.
“[For] myself as a instructor, to go to every house is troublesome, so why not have the individuals come right here they usually can take the language residence?” mentioned Dennis, who has been instructing Mi’kmaq since 2009.
The 4 languages of Maine’s Wabanaki tribes are Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Penobscot and Passamaquoddy, and haven’t been taught in public faculties, solely at tribal faculties in Penobscot and Passamaquoddy areas, Dennis mentioned. One purpose is that public faculties don’t have room for it of their budgets, and European languages like French or German get extra of a precedence.
“As a result of this can be a mom tongue language, we study from our moms, and so loads of our elders realized the language at residence and never in school,” Dennis mentioned.
He and Marshall began the area people language class this winter. Every week they dedicate one hour to language utilized in household settings and one other to conversational phrases encountered in neighborhood settings. Mi’kmaq Well being Heart workers additionally obtain weekly language classes.
Generally class individuals play a sport by saying the primary Mi’kmaq phrases that come to their minds. When somebody enters the category, individuals use the Mi’kmaq phrase for “are available in.” The teachings are structured not simply to show vocabulary, however to assist individuals use the Mi’kmaq language in dialog.
Dennis obtained a grasp’s diploma in elementary schooling from the College of Maine in 2016, and this 12 months earned a grasp’s diploma in linguistics from the Massachusetts Institute of Expertise.
“[Linguistics] taught me how you can train language from a broader perspective whenever you’re speaking about tense and negation,” Dennis mentioned. “You’re speaking about completely different phrases that you wouldn’t hear in regular dialog.”
For example, the Mi’kmaq phrase for telephone is “majtaqte’magan,” a phrase describing one thing that’s used to faucet, which dates again to Morse code. The phrase describes what a telegraph key does, which in the present day is just like individuals tapping on smartphones.
There are English phrases that don’t translate into Mi’kmaq. “Miclish” is a time period for utilizing English blended with Mi’kmaq phrases, and is a technique of talking the language and integrating it into each day life. For instance, there are not any Mi’kmaq phrases for the English phrase “pc” as a result of the Mi’kmaq language is descriptive.
The language could be realized individually, however attending to know the Mi’kmaq tradition will assist the language come to life.
“It’s utilizing the language every day, and it’s utilizing what you understand in order that it received’t be misplaced once more,” Dennis mentioned. “That’s what we try to attain right here.”