In this third part of the project “Müpüley Tain Mapudungun” (Our Mapudungun Soaring), the participants at the workshop reflect on language.
They walk the streets of Buenos Aires trying to figure out how aware are people of the presence of the Mapudungun language in the city. The answers surprised more the respondents than the interviewers: in proper names of people, streets, cities, the Mapudungun language is everywhere, even in a city that sees itself as being European. They were also surprised by the beauty of the language, because this ancient language has words that are closely linked with the material or immaterial to what they refer; and with those sounds from where they are born, such as ‘treftrefi’ (the sound of a racing heart). These are the aims of this third and final documentary: to show the beauty of the sounds of the Mapuche language and to prove that it is more present than we imagine.
The urban landscape in Buenos Aires includes the Spanish language from Buenos Aires, the English language at the market in front of the windows, and the objects that are part of the life in the big federal capital. At first glance, it seems that we are part of a single global culture. However, it is clear to everyone who wants to see that we are also surrounded by other cultures and other languages, such as the Mapudungun language. Even without knowing it.
In this third and last documentary, the workshop participants reflect on language with others who believe that they do not know anything about the Mapudungun language. Some participants with more knowledge of the language go out on the streets to find out how aware of its presence are those who live the daily city life. The answers surprised the respondents more than the interviewers: there are proper names of people, streets, cities in the Mapudungun language. Suddenly, we realise that this language is present in multiple spaces and uses and that not even its name is known: ‘the language of the land’.
A dead language is a language that does not circulate, which is not renewed, which is no longer expressed; a language which no longer has those who give expression to the sound. Contrary to this, the Mapudungun language lives among us in the ‘longko’ [heads] of many speakers who have not let themselves be silenced, Mapuche and non-Mapuche people living the urban life. Unconsciously, all of us who live in the city help make the Mapudungun language circulate, in words that have always been in our speech without knowing where they came from. Thus, the work on language is necessary, especially in a context which is unfavorable for its vitality, so that it ceases to be an invisible participant in the city.
At one point in the documentary, children learn how to say hello, almost like in a game. They transit into new cultural territories since every language carries with it a world of meanings and references. In the Mapudungun language, there are words closely linked with the material or immaterial to which it refers; with those sounds from where they are born, as ‘treftrefi’ (the sound of a racing heart), the ‘wütaw-wütaw’ of the ‘piwke’ (heartbeat), the ‘chucaw’ (the name comes from the singing of the chucao bird) among others that allow an insight into the world of the Mapuche culture. These are the aims of this third documentary: to show the beauty of the sounds of the Mapuche language and to prove that it is more present than we imagine.
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