September 29, 2023

Creation of a new Lingit Language Learning Game is designed to help restore Cultural Roots

Sagu - a new Lingit Language Learning Game. Click on image to enlarge details.

The creation of a new Lingit (pronounced Tlingit) Language Learning game is designed to help restore cultural roots to one of the most difficult to learn languages on earth.

The ability to speak your language of culture and birth is a precious thing, made more so in this day and age for those of Lingit native descent who have seen drastic declines over the past decades in the number of people still fluent in their tongue.

Language lies as an identity at the root of cultures everywhere, and the systemic generational loss of this ability within the Lingit culture has had a huge impact on the descendants of these people from Southeast Alaska and inland northern Canada.

Although restorative language programs for this second-most difficult language to learn on the Planet are currently underway in many of their communities, schools and even private homes, every single effort of relearning the language made by those of Lingit descent goes a long way toward helping restore those deep cultural roots and sense of identity.

The brainchild of my wife Skoehoeteen, who is a strong proponent of the language and who has also of late become a part time teacher of it , this new learning game was created to provide a simple beginning step on the road towards once again becoming fluent in it.

It’s called Sagú which means joy or happiness in the Lingit language. Her reason for choosing this particular name was because there is joy and happiness in not only the game itself but in learning the language as well.

Designed primarily for current teachers of the language and those of Lingit descent who have already had some exposure to it, it’s also designed to be a fun learning experience for all players of it regardless of ethnicity.

Consisting of 32 game cards and 80 image cards with Lingit words describing the image on them, players use game chips to match the images called out in the Lingit language by either the teacher or another game player to form specific patterns on the game cards to “win a game”. The  players must repeat and correctly pronounce the Lingit word for each image called out to reinforce their learning of it. Small prizes can be used as both incentive and interest to add a level of enjoyment to winning these games.

Currently produced individually by hand, my wife and I are hopeful that with increased exposure of this language learning game to those within the Lingit culture that alternative production methods might become both possible and necessary in the future to help in the process of restoring the Lingit language to its people.

With her creative juices now in full flow it’s anybody’s guess what her next idea in the area of language learning might be, but with this new game as a stepping stone it’ll be interesting to see what else she develops with time.

Needless to say I’m intensely proud of my wife for the creation of a new Lingit language learning game designed to help restore (the) cultural roots of this ancient and honorable language back to its people.

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