Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Atrocities in Indigenous Languages

People are translating reports of atrocities into indigenous languages. This is very important work for many reasons.

* It reaches people who may not speak English fluently, such as elders, to raise awareness about significant issues so these can be addressed.

* It keeps the language alive. People will care more about their language and use it more often if important documents are available in that language. The more you use it, the better. Translate news. Write articles. Script plays. Record videos or podcasts. Tell ALL the stories!

* It reveals gaps in languages. You can talk about anything in any language, but you may need to ask around to find the right words, or make new ones. I was thrilled to discover:

>> Ahonwanatónte.

It's a word in Kanien'kéha — the Mohawk language — to describe the act of genocide.

"It means to get rid of them," said Hilda Nicholas, director of Tsi Ronterihwanónhnha ne Kanien'kéha Language and Cultural Center in Kanesatake, Que. <<

Also, beware of this problem:

>> "In English, some of these words are very neutral-sounding or dry-sounding words, but when you think about what it means, it's pretty awful," she said.

"We get very traumatized by handling this kind of material." <<

Atrocities are not safe to handle. This shit is toxic. Historic trauma, communal trauma, secondary PTSD, and compassion fatigue are all serious threats to scholars and activists. Know how to care for your community and yourself.
Tags: activism, ethnic studies, gender studies, linguistics, news, safety
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