Language loss and climate change in Shishmaref

December 3, 2009 at 4:09 am (Alaskan language, Eskimo-Aleut, linguistics)

**blowing dust off blog**

It’s been a while, but this article on CNN reminded me to post here. It’s on the effect of climate change on an Inupiat village named Shishmaref in northern Alaskan. Shishmaref, like several coastal villages in Alaska, is rapidly falling into the sea due to increased water levels, melting sea ice, and erosion. I think what makes the article good is that it’s not so one-sided as most similar articles. It explores many aspects of the village’s impending slide into the ocean, including the effects on the Inupiaq dialect spoken there. There are also some short audio clips of Shelton Kokeok speaking the Shishmaref dialect. The article’s take on language loss isn’t perfect, of course, because it assumes the language loss is entirely due to climate change, but it’s the first time I’ve seen an article on climate change address language issues. If anyone knows of others, please drop a line.

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1 Comment

  1. Arjan said,

    I don’t know of any stories relating language loss and climate change, but here’s an interesting documentary about the community: The Last Days of Shishmaref (includes trailer).

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