Preserving a rich linguistic heritage, from Mohawk to Maori.
Throughout the world individuals in the intimacy of their homes innovate, improvise, and struggle daily to pass on endangered languages to their children. Elaina Albers of Northern California holds a tape recorder up to her womb so her baby can hear old songs in Karuk. The Baldwin family of Montana put labels all over their house marked with the Miami words for common objects and activities, to keep the vocabulary present and fresh. In Massachusetts, at the birth of their first daughter, Jesse Little Doe Baird and her husband convince the obstetrician and nurses to remain silent so that the first words their baby hears in this world are Wampanoag.
Thirteen autobiographical accounts of language revitalization, ranging from Irish Gaelic to Mohawk, Kawaiisu to Māori, are brought together by Leanne Hinton, professor emerita of linguistics at UC Berkeley, who for decades has been leading efforts to preserve the rich linguistic heritage of the world. Those seeking to save their language will find unique instruction in these pages; everyone who admires the human spirit will find abundant inspiration.