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Languages: Phil Cash Cash and Nez Perce

Phil Cash Cash estimates that approximately 20-25 fluent speakers of the Nez Perce language remain. It is something that concerns him as a linguist pursuing his PhD at the University of Arizona, but more importantly, as a member of the Weyiiletpu (Cayuse) and Nuumiipuu (Nez Perce) Indigenous tribes of North America.

He has been taking an active role in promoting the use of language preservation and revitalization efforts of all indigenous languages through the use of participatory web 2.0 tools. Currently he is one of the list administrators of the Indigenous Languages and Technology listserv, which provides a space for discussion and information exchange between “community language specialists, linguists, scholars, and students.” He is also has been curating videos related to language preservation efforts on his YouTube channel called Weyiiletpu.

In addition, Phil has also been taking a more active role in encouraging fellow speakers of the Nez Perce langauge in participating online. On his personal Google+ page, Phil has been writing bilingual updates, such as these related to his recent trip to Quito, Ecuador where he gave a keynote talk at the annual Foundation for Endangered Language Conference:

watíisx wíhnenu’ ’íin koná Quito Ecuador-pa.
kawó’ c’íiqin ’ew’níiyu’ wiwaqititóoqana (kaa linguists).
kaa ‘íin ciklíitoqo’ kinú’ Sept 18th.
páay’s kiyéeyiku’ yóX wéetes hiwe’nikíin “amazon.”

Tomorrow I will travel to Quito Ecuador.
I will give a talk to the indigenous peoples (and linguists).
I return here on Sept 18th.
Perhaps I will wander around that land named “amazon.”

All of this work is something that Phil calls “e-Language 2.0,” which during his talk he described as:

the idea of language learning through digital connections and peer collaboration enhanced by technologies driving Web 2.0. In such an environment users are empowered to search, create, and collaborate in order to fulfill intrinsic needs on being exposed to an endangered ancestral language.

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