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Keeping Haida alive through film and drama

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Title:Keeping Haida alive through film and drama
Authors:White, Frederike
language revitalization
language documentation
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Citation:White, Frederike. 2020. Keeping Haida alive through film and drama. In Silva, Wilson de Lima and Katherine J. Riestenberg. (Eds.) Collaborative Approaches to the Challenges of Language Documentation and Conservation: Selected papers from the 2018 Symposium on American Indian Languages (SAIL). Language Documentation & Conservation Special Publication no. 20 [PP 107-122] Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
Abstract:The Haida language, of the northwest coast of Canada and Southern Alaska, has been endangered for most of the 20th century. Historically, orthography has been a difficult issue for anyone studying the language, since no standardized orthography existed. In spite of the orthographical issues, current efforts in Canada at revitalizing Haida lan-guage and culture have culminated in the theatrical production of Sinxii’gangu, a tradi-tional Haida story dramatized and performed completely in Haida. The most recent effort is Edge of the Knife, a film about a Haida man transforming into a gaagiid (wild man) as a result of losing a child. The story line addresses his restoration back into the community, and as a result, affords not just a resource for two Haida dialects, but also for history and culture. With regards to language, actors participated in two weeks of immersion to prepare and struggled through issues with Haida pronunciation during filming. Using the Haida language exclusively, not just in oral narratives (though there are some in the drama and the film) but in actual dialogue, provides learners with great context for developing strategies for pronunciation and conversation rather than only learning and hearing lexical items and short phrases. Capturing the storyline on film not only supports efforts at revitalization, but provides tangible documentation of both Canadian dialects of the Haida language.
Rights:Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License
Appears in Collections: LD&C Special Publication No. 20: Collaborative Approaches to the Challenges of Language Documentation and Conservation

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