Historical Reminiscents EP 38: Gender, Language, and Professional Life

Rainbow slinky. Right side reads: Episode 38

With the start of the new school year I’ve been thinking a lot about the intersection of language, gender, and creating braver education spaces.  How post-secondary educators and public history facilitators work to be more inclusive in their language, programming, and practices.  In this episode I talk about the #nbdcampaign, pronouns, and small ways you can be more welcoming to folks of all gender identities in your work.

I would love to hear about the ways you work to make your spaces more inclusive, braver, and welcoming. Leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
NCPH consultation on including pronouns on conference badges 
No big deal campaign
-Brielle Harbin, Vanderbilt University, “Teaching Beyond the Gender Binary in the University Classroom.”

Download or listen now.

Legends Project

The Legends Project began in 2002 as a small CBC initiative in Iqaluit, Nunavut to record, archive, and create radio dramas of the oral traditions of Inuit and First Nation communities in Canada. Eventually these oral stories and dramatizations were played on CBC Radio in both English and their original Indigenous language.

Currently, the project has eleven segments, each of which highlights the unique culture and language of a distinct community. In addition to being broadcast nationally the Legends Project allows for a high quality recording of endangered languages and traditions to be preserved. Each segment is a unique mixture of English and indigenous language and song, and provides a unique look into traditional practices of a community.

The most recent segment of the Project focuses on the traditions of the Ahtahkakoop, a Plains Cree nation in Sandy Lake, Saskatchewan. This segment highlights the linguistic, cultural, and social struggles of members of the Ahtahkakoop. It also retells a number of the community’s traditional stories about creation, family, respect, and survival.

Linguistic Heritage

Language is one of the most commonly used means of expression. A language speaks volumes about the culture that developed it. Despite the value society places on language, there are a number of Aboriginal languages in Canada which are in risk of dying off within a generation. The impact of the residential school system and the Canadian government’s policy of assimilation played a major role in the loss Aboriginal language. By removing children from their communities and forcing them to speak English multiple generations of Indigenous people have lost their traditional language.

A recent segment on Spark discussed the use of digital translators in Inuit communities as a means of teaching dying languages to youth. The digital translator discussed was Phraselator. Phraselator allows language speakers to record as many phrases and words as possible and then their students can listen access these recordings as necessary. At five thousand dollars each and given the fact that the Phraselator cannot compare to being exposed to an actual native speaker, the device seems like a poor solution.

Despite the drawbacks of this particular digital translator’s implementation, it is crucial that we begin some form of language preservation. This may include educational incentives for those wishing to learn a language or preserving both written and recorded language alongside accurate translations. The use of digital recordings, transcription, and OCR software all have potential to be adapted to help preserve Indigenous language and teach a new generation the language.