It is not unlikely that many of you may not have heard about a language called Salish. Well, the apparent reason is that it is spoken by only a little more than 100 hundred people across the entire world. Traditionally, some native tribes of North America spoke Salish, but with the passage of time, the number of speakers took a big downfall. It is a culturally important language, and UNESCO has declared it to be on the verge of extinction.
It is vital that language classes to teach younger people Salish are conducted in more colleges across Montana. It is the state with the highest number of Salish speaking people. Hands-on lessons for Salish have become crucial also because most Selis or Salish speakers are above the age of 75 years. So, the chances of it dying down soon are immense if authorities do not take appropriate steps at the right time.
Other methods of training will also matter a great deal in the preservation of this traditional language. There is a decent quantity of learning material, but it is not enough to make the word survive and thrive. If more literature or even translated works from other languages can find a place in the school & college learning material for Salish, then the situation will improve.
The process of learning a language that very few people speak must be exciting. In case, if the younger people get bored while acquiring the linguistic skills of Salish, then the problem will persist. Teaching them translated versions of famous literary works such as the Harry Potter series and other children’s literature can be a smart way to make more kids learn Salish.
In theory, it would not be very tough for an English speaker to learn Salish because of the vast array of similarities between the scripts of these languages. It is also vital that the government of Montana takes steps to make Salish more useful. One effective way would be to allow official communication to take place in Salish. In such a scenario the growth and proliferation of Salish will be at a different class altogether.
Some interesting facts about Montana Salish are as follows:
- Less than 120 people in Montana and Idaho speak this language.
- It is a polysynthetic language with many words that you can’t speak on their own.
- Almost all people who speak this language are elderly.
- In Montana Salish, there is no definite distinction between verbs and nouns.
- Most people who spoke dialects of Salish have started speaking English over the years.
The state government of Montana has made some efforts to revitalize Montana Salish over the years, but those efforts have not yielded substantial results. Nkwusum Salish Immersion School in Arlee district of Montana is a premier institute for studying Montana Salish. The dictionary for this native language has also become a lot more extensive over the past decade. However, the number of learners has not seen much of an upside in a reasonably long time.