Eyak Language Project Launches

Eyak (a Na-Dené language spoken in southcentral Alaska) received a lot of attention in academia and the media as a dying language when Michael E. Krauss (U of Alaska) wrote copiously of his interactions with the last elderly speaker and full blooded Eyak, Marie Smith Jones, who passed away in the beginning of 2008 at the age of 89. Fortunately, Krauss had produced a dictionary of Eyak in 1970, with ample supporting materials like glossed texts and linguistics studies for future generations, somewhat answering her prayers for her language and people.

Reportedly, Jones had a vision someone from afar would revive the language some day, and her name in Eyak – Udach’ Kuqax*a’a'ch – means “a sound that calls people from afar”. For over a decade now, Guillaume Leduey, has been teaching himself how to speak Eyak using existing documentation since the age of 12, and has brought even more media attention to this language.

Leduey got in touch with Laura Bliss Spaan in 2005, who made a documentary on Eyak, through requesting some instructional CDs. Eventually, this lead to a visit to Alaska, where he stayed with and learned from professor emeritus Krauss and helped locals, including Jones’ children (9), learn Eyak. Now, he’s writing language lessons for the Eyak Language Project, which launched on Jan 1, 2011. This is an Eyak language teaching website intended to help restore Eyak from death, reminiscent of the Lenape Talking Dictionary. More will be added to it over the coming weeks. Check it out!

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One Response to “Eyak Language Project Launches”

  1. Julieann says:

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