University of Arizona works to protect endangered languages

UA faculty members are looking for ways to preserve and revitalize endangered languages in an effort to help students of minority cultures keep their heritage alive. The purpose is to break a cycle of knowledge loss that occurs when children enter schools and learn English, instead of their traditional languages.

Nutritional science junior Liz Francisco’s mother used to speak O’odham, a language traditionally spoken by the Tohono O’odham tribe. However, she stopped speaking it at her grandmother’s request.

“Tradition is mostly lost,” Francisco said. “The only real tradition I know of is storytelling and round dancing.”

In an effort to regain her sense of culture, Francisco enrolled herself in a Tohono O’odham related course.

Now, UA faculty members are trying to help students like Francisco immerse themselves in their heritage. It is challenging in today’s busy modern world, but UA began the critical languagesprogram to increase the number of students learning less common languages.

Read more: The Daily Wildcat

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