Native Languages Stay Alive on Web
Website teaches language, aids with pronunciation
Many Native languages across the country are in danger of disappearing and that is also the case right here in Alaska. The Alutiiq language is spoken on Kodiak Island and in villages like Afognak and Port Lions, but the number of people alive who are fluent speakers is now less than a dozen.
Melissa Borton is a member of the Afognak Native Village. Borton is spearheading a drive to preserve the Alutiiq language and using technology as her main tool.
She secured funding for an interactive language website that launched in September.
“It is very hard to look at a word and understand how it's pronounced,” says Borton. “You need to hear it spoken, that’s key to learning a language.”
The website includes an Alutiiq dictionary where users can not only see the way the word is written but actually hear how it is pronounced. There are also numerous study guides for children of varying ages.
Borton says reaching out to youngsters is key to helping the language continue. She says encouraging the next generation to become fluent is the only way that endangered languages will survive. You can find the website at www.alutiiqlanguage.org.