The Center for Ethical Cannibalism

Language in the Pacific, Washington, and Utah

I've given much thought to the idea of preserving languages both before and since this class. I, personally am from an obscure nation that speaks an Austronesian tongue called Gilbertese. Now, while there are theoretically over 100,000 people who natively speak it currently, the home of Gilbertese (the name of the language and the people) is projected to go underwater in the next couple of decades- preceding a natural diaspora and potential loss of the language. While I dream of a more integrated world where the Gilbertese are able to converse with globally and trade goods and ideas freely, the loss of the language would constitute the loss of a nationalistic limb. The spoken and written words of a people are integral to their story and thus their identity. To accept the loss of another language is the watch another wing of the Library of Alexandria burn down. Generations of cultural experience, wisdom, medicine, philosophy and art can be preserved and later used at the cost of the slight inconvenience of record keeping and listening. The greatest threats are ones that many are familiar with assimilation into homogenized cultures and globalization. The economic pressures and lack of accessibility remain constant boots on the throats of natives of tongues. These intangible invasions can be effectively confronted by a combination of grassroots and technological insurgency. When academics and amateurs alike reach out to record the language, that source material can be distributed in revitalization projects like camps, schools, and free language apps.

Coming from Sammamish, WA to Logan, UT allows one to step back and notice the overt and subtle differences in culture. My town and high school (Skyline) were characterized by a heavy distributed attitude towards dialects. One might be tempted to call it a benign Stepford wives style enforced passive-aggressively with cold-shoulders and blank stares. In the larger gatherings among the families of the upper management and executives (of Starbucks, Costco, Microsoft, and Boeing) a subdued atmosphere smothered any potential upstarts from deviating from the Standard American English. This would only be peppered with occasional industry specific buzzwords or obscure references to prerequisite pop culture. But once you broke away for smaller activities amongst peers or in separate houses the attitude would normal relax. With your friends you could rely on a localist attitude focusing on the dialect of the socially highest-ranking individual in the group. The uptight uptown SAE would give way to code-switching with AAVE from hip-hop culture and Asian American influences which usually piggybacked off of the mixed ethnicity and food common in the Pacific Northwest. This diglossia of SAE in public and Alternative Pacific American English with ones intimates makes Sammamish a mainly distributed town with pockets of APAE springing up in the later hours.