Can the Welsh save Inuktitut?

Their language is as useful as we make it.
Their language is as useful as we make it.

The Inuit of Northern Canada are worried that their language, Inuktitut, will die. They looked to the example of another language, Welsh, that managed to come back from the brink, thanks to some creative and forceful measures. Inuit language specialists sat down recently in Wales to learn about language-revitalization efforts.

I don’t know if the secret is this simple, but here’s one of the most important things that the Welsh are doing:

It’s mandatory for schools in Wales to teach in Welsh from preschool to grade 10.

That means that the language is the means to an end. Welsh is not a subject in school; it is school.

Inuktitut, like any language, will only succeed when it is the most natural end to the most natural ends.
Giving language life

Being American doesn’t mean speaking English

This is not the US!
This is not the US!

My family forgot, over the course of 2-3 generations, how to speak German (Swiss Basel dialect and Pennsylvania Dutch), Irish, Welsh, and Scottish. My wife’s family forgot how to speak Russian, French, and German. In the place where I live (Minnesota, USA), they forgot Ojibwe, Lakota, and Menominee, along with a countless number of European, Asian, African, and South American languages. (I have a coworker who personally forgot how to speak Aymara and Quechua.)

They didn’t simply “forget,” though. They were forced to forget. US society forces families and communities to forget. From the physical punishment of African slaves and Native American boarding school students, to the shaming peer-pressure of the modern suburban Middle School, our society squeezes the languages out of communities. Our society makes plain that to be one of “us,” your speech cannot betray any trace of the “Old World.”

Forgetting about the Old World makes us Americans.
Defining ourselves