Segments in this Video

Amurdak (04:29)


Amurdak was historically spoken in the Northern Territory of Australia. There is only one known living speaker of the language. Many languages throughout the world are facing extinction. (Credits)

Arnhem Land (03:45)

The Northern Territory of Australia is home to many languages that are going extinct. Johnny Namayiwa lives in Arnhem Land and is working with linguists to preserve the languages.

Linguists (02:04)

Nicholas Evans differentiates between Aboriginal and western views on language. Aboriginals know many languages, whereas westerners commonly know one and find it difficult to learn others.

Multilingual Groups (02:54)

Ruth Singer explains that being multilingual in Arnhem Land is a form of respect. Multiple languages are spoken in order to be able to speak the local language of neighboring communities.

European Colonization (02:28)

When Europeans came to Australia they massacred Aboriginals and their culture. Indigenous people were punished for speaking their native language; as a result, many languages were lost.

Creation Myth (04:02)

The myth of Warramurrungunji is important to Aboriginal cultures; a version in Amurdak was recorded. Charlie Mangulda, the only living person that speaks Amurdak, translates the myth for Evans.

Endangered Languages (04:33)

While translating a creation myth, Evans learned that Mangulda speaks some Wurdirrk, a language thought to be completely extinct. Children are taught traditional languages at home and are sent to school to learn English.

Translating English (03:19)

In 1916 Christianity was brought to Goulburn. English is primarily used in the church, but translation efforts are beginning. Popular music is also being translated to save the culture.

Developing Language (02:16)

Words developed because of needs; Aboriginal language needed to explain the animals, plants, and ecosystems to stay alive.

Cultural Traditions (02:50)

The language on Goulburn explains the culture of their ancestors. Rodney Marbinda explains the importance of white clay in Goulburn culture.

Corroboree (02:21)

Corroboree festivals allow Aboriginals to celebrate language through song. Extinct languages are present in the songs, preserving them.

Songmen (02:25)

Aboriginal songmen preserved extinct language through song, even if no one speaks the language they can still sing it.

Welsh Language (03:31)

Welsh was an endangered language, surrounded by English on the island of Great Britain. The Welsh language is a success story, preserved in part by a yearly celebration of Eisteddfod.

Eisteddfod Prize (01:26)

The highest honor at the Eisteddfod is for free verse poetry, last awarded to Gwyneth Lewis.

Learning Welsh (03:55)

The Welsh language is difficult to learn for many English speakers. Watch as Holman attempts to learn the language and write a poem for Stomp.

Colonization of Wales (03:15)

The English conquest of Wales threatened the Welsh language. English was made the official language of government, but Welsh was still spoken among the common people.

Capel Celyn (02:10)

Capel Celyn was a thriving Welsh town until it was flooded to provide an English city with water.

1960s Welsh Movement (03:16)

The flooding of Capel Celyn started a movement to preserve the Welsh language. A political movement developed alongside the language movement to preserve Welsh sovereignty.

Welsh Education (03:13)

After the language movement children were able to go to school in either Welsh of English. Many children learned Welsh in school, parents spoke English at home.

Love of Language (03:22)

Lewis wrote a poem for the Wales Millennium Centre. The poem is two separate poems, one in Welsh and one in English, which make sense together and apart.

Welsh Music (02:18)

Music played an essential part in making the Welsh language accessible. Holman speaks to a Welsh musician who found his love for the language through rap.

Welsh Poetry (02:04)

Holman seeks advice from Welsh speakers on his Stomp poem, a slam poem written in Welsh.

The Stomp (04:01)

Holman reads his poem at the Stomp, a slam poetry event. Eisteddfod celebrates the Welsh language and helps keep it alive.

Hawaiian School (03:28)

The Hawaiian language was preserved by activists who believed that it was central to the culture. Immersion schools were created to teach Hawaiian to children.

Decline of the Hawaiian Language (04:36)

Europeans arrived in Hawaii in 1778, missionaries arrived soon after. Within a generation, Hawaii was one of the most literate areas. In 1898, Hawaii was annexed by the United States and speaking Hawaiian was forbidden.

Kupuna (02:18)

Arlene W. Eaton describes being forbidden to speak Hawaiian and her memories of the time.

1960s Activism (05:16)

In 1959 Hawaii became the 50th state. Soon after, a cultural renaissance was born to bring back the language. Immersion schools were opened, staffed by native Hawaiian speakers with no teaching experience.

Hawaiian Alphabet (04:07)

The Hawaiian language uses mostly vowels with very few consonants. Some Hawaiian words have many meanings and the language is very poetic.

Mele (04:23)

Hawaiian chants are an important part of the culture. Hula cannot exist without the chants; hula puts movement to the words.

Pele the Fire Goddess (03:02)

A mele created for the goddess Pele is chanted while dancing hula at Kilauea. Some Hawaiians feel that this is their creation story.

Translating Hawaiian (03:27)

Poet W.S. Merwin explains the beauty of the language and the culture lost if the language is lost. The meanings of the words are lost while translating Hawaiian to English.

Educating Children (03:28)

Languages survive when they are taught children. Kau'i Sai-Dudoit chose to teach her children Hawaiian and send them to an immersion school.

Endangered Languages (03:27)

The Hawaiian culture is being saved through the education of children. Many languages throughout the world are endangered.

Credits: Language Matters with Bob Holman (00:59)

Credits: Language Matters with Bob Holman

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Language Matters with Bob Holman

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



This documentary asks: What do we lose when a language dies? What does it take to save a language? Language Matters was filmed around the world: on a remote island off the coast of Australia, where 400 Aboriginal people speak 10 different languages, all at risk; in Wales, where Welsh, once in danger, is today making a comeback; and in Hawaii, where a group of Hawaiian activists are fighting to save their native tongue.

Length: 110 minutes

Item#: FMK131319

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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