Hello fellow word nerds

language portal of canada

As my RVF blogger-counterpart Vanessa Lisabelle has said, COVID 19 has shifted the RVF into 2.0 mode.

If you have some extra time as you are practicing social distancing, have a look at the Language Portal of Canada’s Our Languages Blog.

The OLB covers a vast (metaphorical) territory and explores all facets of language — Indigenous language revitalization, grammatical gender in the Cree language, machine translation, linguistic anxiety, and the many varieties of French. Plus, if you are keen on writing about language, they are open to guest bloggers.

Here are three of my favourite articles (so far):

The French invasion of English

According to blogger André Racicot, at least 60% of English-language vocabulary comes from the French language. In 1066, when William the Conqueror invaded England and became its king, English underwent a seismic change. Within a few short years, French became the language of the English aristocracy, while the commoners continued to speak Old English. Racicot notes that “English came back into its own” 300 years later, but it continues to be heavily influenced by French.

From Vancouver to Jonquière

Tolga Yalkin grew up speaking English and Turkish. He decided that he wanted to work in the public service and started to learn French as an adult. However, he describes himself as a perfectionist who became anxious and frustrated that he wasn’t progressing quickly enough, even though he says he “studied all day long” in an immersion program. Finally, his blog post says, he became so discouraged that he almost quit, but then something changed. He realized that he didn’t need to speak French perfectly, and that “learning a language isn’t just an intellectual process”... a language needs to be lived. Since I am trying to improve my own French and am struggling a bit, this is heartening.

He pūkoʻa kani ʻāina (A coral reef grows into an island): Building our Indigenous language capacity

Candace Galla grew up during the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance of the 1970s when ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi (the Hawaiian language) was re-emerging from a colonial history of cultural genocide and assimilation. Yet she wasn’t able to formally learn her language until age 12 at school. Now she is an Indigenous language advocate, researcher, and scholar-educator living in Canada, and she is passionate about supporting individuals who are reclaiming their Indigenous languages on their terms. In her article, she suggests 11 meaningful ways to engage in and establish a foundation for Indigenous language learning and revival.


Catherine Fisher, Blogger