The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

DeGraff @ UHHilo

Michel DeGraff was at the University of Hawaii at Hilo (@UHHilo) during the week of November 12, visiting their Program in Linguistics which is part of the College of Hawaiian Language. Michel also gave a talk there on ” Haitian Creole for education, human rights & development.” The Program in Linguistics at UH Hilo has set up an inspiring example of collaboration among linguistics, language revitalization and teacher education. The Hawaiian language was nearly exterminated through US cultural genocide starting in the late 19th century when US marines overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy. Then the US banned the use of the Hawaiian language. In the early 1980s there were fewer than 50 children speaking Hawaiian. But now Hawaiian has been revitalized and counts some 10,000 speakers, especially thanks to the efforts of the College of Hawaiian Language’s laboratory schools, which start as early as in pre-schools (called “Pūnana Leo” in Hawaiian; i.e., “language nests”). These laboratory schools may well be the best examples of language-immersion schools in the context of language revitalization. For a sampling of images of these immersion activities, both at @UHHilo and in the laboratory schools, see Michel’s videos and photos on Facebook: