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Margaret Florey just posted a notice on the list "Resource-Network-Linguistic-Diversity@unimelb.edu.au" (a terrific list for information on languages and fieldwork - see also their website) about a new 161 page Canadian report on revitalising First Nation, Inuit and Métis languages and cultures. It is definitely worth downloading, both for its recommendations and for the information about what's happening in Canada.

The report endorses the values of bilingualism - something Canadians are more familiar with than we are in Australia. from There are lots of interesting recommendations - e.g for five week language immersion courses, similar to those offered for French and English. Another important recommendation is one that recommends that:

"All government departments,and particularly the Departments of Justice, Health, and Human Resources and Skills Development,need to adopt policies and provide funding sufficient to allow for delivery of services and programs which promote First Nation,Inuit and Métis languages,in the same manner as for the French and English languages."

I was impressed by the table in Appendix E: Speakers of Aboriginal Languages, based on Mary Jane Norris,“Canada’s Aboriginal Languages” Canadian Social Trends (Winter 1998),8–16, based on the 1996 Census data. It contains classifications of languages in terms of factors such as indices of Continuity and Ability, and Percent of Children in linguistically mixed marriages, and whether the languages are deemed endangered. Inuktitut is classified as viable large (having at least 25,000 speakers,ranging from the young to the elderly). Gitksan as viable small (the only member of the entire Salish family to be so classified), Haida and Tlingit as endangered. A first glance suggests that linguistically mixed marriages are not significant for language viability above a certain size - compare the three viable large languages Cree (31%), Ojibwe (47%), Inuktitut (19%).

'Uncertain' is given as the status of Mohawk, which was one of the first languages that linguists paid attention to and supported with respect to language maintenance. (E.g. Marianne Mithun and Wallace Chafe. 1979. Recapturing the Mohawk language. In Tim Shopen (ed.) Languages and their status, (3-33). Cambridge MA: Winthrop). I guess one would have hoped for "viable small" status, but 'uncertain' highlights the ongoingness of the struggle to maintain languages.

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The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.

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