2018 NEWSFLASH – Return to Tarabuco!
Tahirih Sharaf Challhua Limachi poses in traditional dress before participating in a storytelling interview to record the speech of children from rural Chuquisaca, Bolivia. Chuquisaca is known for some of the finest and most well-preserved weaving techniques in the former Inca empire. Imagine our surprise to discover that Tahirih’s first two names mean “pure honor” in Persian – a language you might not expect to hear in a remote South American farming community. Over half of this Quechua speaking community has embraced the Bahá’í faith, and several people explained that they were attracted to its teachings celebrating unity in diversity, supporting the mother tongue and native culture. Tahirih and her mother gave us permission to post this photo on our website and at the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America, where we will start adding over sixty new storytelling videos later this year.
Even as we were excited to meet children who speak Quechua at home, we were dismayed to discover that more and more of their parents are opting to speak Spanish to them rather than Quechua. Many families have already migrated to towns and cities where they hope for access to a better education (and to desperately needed water.) Our hope for a better future goes with these families, but we regret the difficult choice they’re forced to make, sacrificing the language that forms a part of their identity. As more and more families make this choice, the language itself will be harder to recover. “UNESCO’s Language Vitality and Endangerment framework … establishes six degrees of vitality/endangerment based on nine factors. Of these factors, the most salient is that of intergenerational transmission.”
This is one reason we find it so important to record people of all ages as they speak Quechua today. We’re truly creating a time capsule for tomorrow, in addition to giving Quechua speech a place in today’s international research on child language.
2016 NEWSFLASH – Pachi, añaychakuykim! (thanks)
Residents of communities around Tarabuco, Bolivia, tell stories in their native language to assist with the creation of a grammar and curriculum materials in their language.