"New World" Film Revives Extinct Native American Tongue
Enter Blair Rudes, a linguist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. As the amount of Virginia Algonquian dialogue spoken in the movie increased from just two scenes to more than a third of the film, Rudes found himself reconstructing an entire language that had long gone extinct.
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John Frederick Fausz - 1/25/2006
What's the big deal? William Strachey left an extensive Powhatan word list with English translations, and Capt John Smith recorded several long phrases--both long available in print. In the 1980s PBS/American Playhouse docu-drama, ROANOAK, an entire village of Algonquian-speaking Cree was recruited to speak and teach native dialogue in a similar dialect, which was then translated into English subtitles. Our short, skimpy historical memories make some things seem innovative when they are merely derivative.
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