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Language revitalization at a crossroads

January 25,2017

Berkeley professor Leanne Hinton shares her efforts to keep 80 endangered Indigenous languages alive

By Clayton MacGillivray, Werklund School of Education

Lisa Panayotidis and Paul Stortz discuss the post-secondary experiences of women from 1850-1970.

Tom Ricento, chair of the Multidisciplinary Approaches in Language Policy and Planning Conference, introduces professor Leanne Hinton

Lisa Panayotidis and Paul Stortz discuss the post-secondary experiences of women from 1850-1970.

Leanne Hinton, professor emerita of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley discusses challenges to indigenous education in California.| View Presentation Slides

California is a state of many merits but it is also a state facing several challenges.  One such challenge is the approximately 80 endangered or dormant languages found within its borders; as a result, California is recognized as holding title to the highest number of endangered languages in North America. This is a fact Leanne Hinton is endeavoring to change.

Hinton, a professor emerita of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, has partnered with Native American groups since the 1970’s.  Her area of specialization is indigenous endangered languages and she works as a practicing trainer in the field of language revitalization.  During her decades of service, she helped found the American Indian Languages Development Institute and the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival as well as creating the Master-Apprentice Language Learning Program and the Breath of Life Language archival workshop, all of which work to revive endangered or dormant languages.

In her talk, “Language revitalization in California: Where do we go from here?”, Hinton addresses the crossroad California now stands before due to the passing of the last fluent speakers of these many languages.  This new reality has led Hinton and her colleagues to develop new techniques in order to keep these languages from extinction.

Listen to the podcast to learn more about the path Hinton and others are forging.