I'm in Eugene, OR for the meetings of the Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium, Athapaskan/Dene Languages Conference, International Conference on Salish and Neighboring Languages, and Hokan-Penutian Languages Conference. It's been a pretty good weekend, with some good presentations, and I've gotten to meet some fun and interesting people. I just got out of Leanne Hinton's keynote address, and soon it will be time for the conference dinner.
A minor note of displeasure has to do with my native language. My native language is English. I love the English language, and as much as I want to teach my children to speak another language, I know that it's not going to happen, both because I'm not fluent in any other language, and because English is a big part of my own heritage and that of my parents and grandparents, and I want my children to share in that heritage. I recognize that English speakers often exert an oppressive force on speakers of other languages, especially in the U.S. Even so, it annoys me to hear my language denigrated, insulted, and vilified. I do not think that English is inferior, and I do not think it is stultifying. What English speakers do is not a reflection on the language itself. A similar effect can be seen in anthropologists, most of whom argue passionately for religious diversity, as long as the religion isn't Christianity. I think we need to remember that no matter what terrible things English speakers have done to speakers of other languages, viz., boarding schools for Native American children, the language itself is just as valuable and just as beautiful as the languages I am, quite honestly, more interested in: Navajo, Lillooet, Karuk, Cherokee.
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