Monthly Archives: January 2015

January 2015 round up

The days are short and cold in London in January, but our post-holiday blues have been brightened by some great new recordings on Language Landscape. In this new regular feature, we’ll round up some of the materials that have been added to the site in the past month to give you a taste of what’s happening on the map.

First up are some videos of Louisiana Creole French from Michael Gisclair’s YouTube channel. Louisiana Creole French is a group of French dialects spoken in the US state of Lousiana. We have a traditional (and very timely!) New Year’s greeting:

According to the description, this is an expression said every New Year’s Day in certain parts of francophone Louisiana. Traditionally, children would go up to old people and say “Bonne année, grand nez. Fouille dans ta poche et donne-moi de la monnaie.” (roughly translated as: “Happy New Year big nose. Dig in your pocket and give me the money”) It may sound rude, but used in this context, it’s not. The adults would always play along.

We also have a recording of the poem/song ‘Zozo Mokœr’ by Major John Augustin. It was originally published in the New Orleans Times-Democrat and can be found in the book ‘Louisiana Folktales’ by Alcée Fortier (originally published in 1894).

We’re really excited to see the first recordings of an Indo-European language in the United States (yes we know US English has already been added to the map several times, but nowhere in the US yet!) The recordings are mapped in southern Louisiana, the spiritual home of Louisiana French. These aren’t the first recordings added in the US, however – that distinction goes to this recording of Mekeo, followed by this one of New Perce. Like Louisiana French, Nez Perce is mapped where you would expect it, in the northwestern United States, but the recording of Mekeo is mapped many miles from the ancestral home of the language in Papua New Guinea.

These recordings and their locations go to show that the language diversity present in the US remains tantalisingly uncharted in many respects. Dialect variation in US English is fairly well documented, and the distribution of some of the larger minority languages spoken in the US has been mapped, but there is still so much more to find out.

Also added this month is this beguiling video of Frysk from the Praat Mar Frysk YouTube channel. Frysk (or West Frisian) is a West Germanic language spoken in the north of the Netherlands.

The video is an example of ‘surprise poetry’, where a speaker recites a poem in public with no prior warning to their audience. It is part of Praat Mar Frsyk’s programme to encourage more people to use the language in the public sphere. We always welcome positive attempts to raise the status of minority and endangered languages and fully support the aims of this innovative organisation (also have a look at their Frysk-Dutch translation app).

Finally we are excited to announce our very first recording in Colombia! It is of a song in Murui, an indigenous South American language spoken by around 8,000 people in Colombia and Peru. The recording was made in Tabatinga in the far south of Colombia, close to the borders with both Peru and Brazil, by Kasia Wojtylak, a PhD student at James Cook University in Australia. Like Kasia’s recording, many of the recordings of endangered and minority languages on Language Landscape have been added by field linguists and anthropologists who have worked with indigenous communities. It’s great to see so many academics sharing their research in this way.

We hope you enjoyed our round up of some of the new recordings added to Language Landscape in January 2015. Please add your thoughts and comments below. If you’d like the chance to be featured in next month’s round up, please add a recording to the map. You can find lots of hints and tips on making and adding recordings on our Help page. See you next month!