fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

R.I.P. Eyak

The Washington Post had a brief obituary today of Marie Smith Jones. The significance is that she was the last native speaker of the Alaksan Eyak language.

One day historians will look back at the crimes of colonialism and, I believe, will find the death of languages to be high up on the list. At the same time, final speakers carry some complicity since they made the decision not to pass the languages on to their children and grand-children.

My parents were quite deliberate about not speaking Yiddish to us, for example. My mother has some regrets regarding this, but she also remembers the humiliation of not knowing English when she started school. I like to think it is possible to raise truly bilingual children, but those were less enlightened times.
Tags: languages

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