Sunday, May 21, 2006

Genocide: Language Acquisition As Slow Extermination - by Gerard Donnelly Smith

When a child acquires language that child also acquires cultural meaning, gains access to an epistemology and way to code and decode secrets, to posit and solve mysteries, to create and justly administer laws, and to a receive vision, then record and safeguard the myth.

Those who control which language is acquired or accessed, also control access to and the acquisition of the knowledge compiled by speakers of that language. If one suppresses acquisition of a native tongue, one suppresses the mental capacity of the native speaker who will be unable to function in that indigenous society because he/she cannot decipher, nor even comprehend the spoken or written word. Though the child may have a healthy and perhaps even productive life, the suppression of her/his language skills would have serious consequences for her/his mental capacity. Similarly, the suppression of the indigenous language by the dominant, conquering culture reduces the ability of the native speaker within his/her own culture: the child will have no way to access the knowledge of his/her own people. The child will be damaged because of this denial. Communicative parents, those good storytellers, those patient instructors of language, bestow not only language skills, but also communicate love, exhibit trust, provide encouragement, not only with distinctive cultural sounds, but also distinctive cultural facial expressions. The indigenous child forced to learn only the dominant culture's language suffers grievous mental harm. Grievous because the bond between parent and child, between child and grandparents, between child and ancestors, and tradition, and her/his "own" people's history is destroyed, in all probability, beyond reclaiming. more...


Post a Comment

<< Home