A STUDY OF OUR LANGUAGE
We perhaps have one of the uncommon types of contact language. The only remaining Russian-based Creole languages are found in Alaska. Ninilchik language is a rare example of a complex interplay between three cultural and linguistic elements: Russian, Native Alaskan and a later addition of Anglophone American. Our speakers are few and the majority are 65 and over. Our language is endangered and therefore I am pleased to announce we have attracted the attention of a linguist who is a native speaker of Russian. She has corresponded with my cousins Wayne Leman , and his brother, Senator Loren Leman, and myself concerning the language. Wayne and I forwarded our compiled lists of words to her and she analyzed some of them. I am updating the comments and language as we learn. Wayne will be working on the list with me so please visit often.
Wayne Leman is a linguist who works for the Cheyenne tribe and he is very familiar with the linguistic process. I am mainly interested in phonetics. We have recorded our parents and will send our tapes and transcriptoins to the linguist. The Ninilchik Traditional Council is working with us and a meeting is planned with some of the village elders and speakers, so that as many Ninilchik speaker as possible can teach the linguist our words and check each other's work.. The language specialist is planning to spend two weeks with us in June. We needed a person fluent in Russian and a background in Native Alaskan Languages and our hopes and prayers appear to have been answered. Maybe God has meant it all to be good this way for us, because 1997 is the 150th anniversary of the permanent settlement of our village. We can celebrate our heritage in a good way!
At this time we need to define goals and learn to be consistent with spelling, and pronunciations. The project will not be finished in months or even several years. Last but not least is the need for funding. We are looking at grants, private funding and other sources. We welcome any and all suggestions.
The project would consist of:
The objective would be: