August 25, 2010; Source: The Daily Times | Some estimates have it that half the world’s languages will disappear in the next 100 years, to be replaced by those of a more dominant culture. But for communities that wish to retain the values and history—the culture reflected in a common language, this is a terrible prospect. Since December 2007 a nonprofit called Navajo Language Renaissance, a group made up of Navajo educators, has been working to make software available to those who wish to learn and revive this endangered language. Apparently the project is the result of thousands of volunteer hours. The volunteers provided expertise, photos, audio recordings and cultural support to the project.
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“Navajo is very hard to learn,” said Lorraine Manavi, language professor at San Juan College. “It’s difficult when the concepts and sentence structures are dramatically different from a person’s first language.”
This program is part of Rosetta Stone’s Endangered Language Program in 2004 which is aimed at helping to revitalize native dialects. Other languages in the series are Mohawk, Alaskan Inupiac, and Labrador, an Eskimo language. Marion Bittinger, the manager of the Endangered language Program said, “We’re excited that the Rosetta Stone Endangered Language Program can play a role in encouraging younger generations to use the Navajo language . . . We’re optimistic our work with indigenous groups will be a step toward reversing the tide of global language extinction.”—Ruth McCambridge