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Ethnology

A discussion of the peculiarities of languages and the differences between them.

Ethnology

Postby scw1217 » Fri Sep 15, 2006 1:16 pm

I came across this link after reading an "Ask Yahoo" column and I'll admit I found the statistics interesting. It lists 238 languages in the United States, 162 as living, 3 as a second-language, and 72 as extinct. Of interest to me was the number of American Indian languages.

Also, referencing the notes on American Sign language, I'll admit I had not thought of it as a language, despite the name. Nor had I considered the fact that it would have dialects.

Thought some here might find it interesting.

http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=US

Dialects: Black American Sign Language, Tactile Sign Language. In Canada there are dialect differences with USA ASL and regional differences from east to west. Structurally and grammatically distinct from Quebec Sign Language (LSQ). Has grammatical characteristics independent of English. A few adults know both ASL and LSQ. Most signers from eastern Canada use ASL with some British Sign Language vocabulary, a remnant from Maritime Sign Language, which came from British Sign Language. Black American Sign Language developed in segregated schools in the south. It contains much sign vocabulary not in ASL and some different grammatical structure. Tactile Sign Language is used by over 900 persons in Louisiana who know ASL, but have lost their sight from a generic cause: Usher's Syndrome. They communicate by touch on each other's wrists. Some have migrated to Seattle. Some have learned Braille. ASL has 43% lexical similarity with French Sign Language in an 872-word list. Classification: Deaf sign language
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Re: Ethnology

Postby sluggo » Sat Sep 16, 2006 6:33 pm

scw1217 wrote:I came across this link after reading an "Ask Yahoo" column and I'll admit I found the statistics interesting. It lists 238 languages in the United States, 162 as living, 3 as a second-language, and 72 as extinct. Of interest to me was the number of American Indian languages.

Also, referencing the notes on American Sign language, I'll admit I had not thought of it as a language, despite the name. Nor had I considered the fact that it would have dialects.


I hadn't thought of that either but when we consider that bird songs have regional dialects I guess it's not surprising.

Yes, innersting resource you posted there, if a bit hard to read through. I was surprised to read that we have over eight thousand Basque speakers in these here Untied States.
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Postby sluggo » Sat Sep 16, 2006 7:33 pm

I also see the site in all its listings significantly understated the population of Hutterites. I was reading the old Tit for Tat thread and it reminded me of their speech and some of the terms in their rustic Carinthian-German dialect.

This group is quite the interesting study: upon first encounter Hutterite speech seems to carry a strong tone akin to an adult scolding a child; in time one realizes it's just a kind of supreme self-confidence (they say in their entire 5-century history they've had two murders and one suicide). Anyway about 15 years ago when I travelled and spent time among them, their total population was around fifty thousand and they were said to be the most prolific ethnic group in the U.S.
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Postby scw1217 » Sun Sep 17, 2006 9:41 am

I am forever amazed by the origin of certain words. How two seemingly unrelated words can come from the same root is interesting to me. That said, I had not given the wide range of languages inside the U.S. much thought before scanning that article.
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Postby skinem » Sun Sep 17, 2006 1:59 pm

It's a shame to me that there are/were quite a number of languages in this country that still aren't/weren't documented.
As an example, roughly half of the languages once spoken on the Yakima Indian Reservation when I was young are not spoken anymore. They have literally died out and no one today can speak them, nor were they fully documented. I've often wondered if that is the case on one of the handful of rezes I have first-hand knowledge of, how is it nationally?
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Postby Perry » Sun Sep 17, 2006 5:47 pm

skinem wrote:It's a shame to me that there are/were quite a number of languages in this country that still aren't/weren't documented.
As an example, roughly half of the languages once spoken on the Yakima Indian Reservation when I was young are not spoken anymore. They have literally died out and no one today can speak them, nor were they fully documented. I've often wondered if that is the case on one of the handful of rezes I have first-hand knowledge of, how is it nationally?


This makes an inquiring public wish to know more about Skinem- The Younger Years.
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Postby skinem » Tue Sep 19, 2006 2:08 pm

I save those tales to encourage those who have overstayed their welcome to leave...
Just me uttering the words "Why, in MY day..." have caused strong men to weep, women to faint and children to flee.
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Postby Ferrus » Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:25 am

Sign languages are independent languages, not ciphers of their respective tongues. Hence BSL (and the variants used in various Commonwealth countries excepting Canada) is very different to ASL-FSL family.

Indeed, I have read with BSL that the schools spread around the country in the 19th century began to develop their own dialects and slang.

Also of interest is the Nicaraguan Sign Language: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicaraguan_Sign_Language
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