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Desert Diary
Culture/New Tongues


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Jealous about the ease with which children pick up languages? Not only the primary language of the culture they're born into, but any other language they encounter? Consider the story of the child whose parents wanted him to know more than one language, and so the father talked to him only in English, his mother only in French, and his nanny only in German. He did fine in learning all three, but soon became very worried. Obviously, since everyone had their own language, he was soon going to have to come up with one of his own!

We don't have that problem, but most of us unfortunately lose easy language acquisition. Brace yourselves. Elsewhere in the U.S., some Native Americans are pushing to replace distasteful geographical names, like Squaw Peak, with names from their own languages. This may be a problem, because the ability of many of us more mature individuals to get our tongues around other languages, such as the Tanoan, Keresan, or Uto-Aztecan language groups of the New Mexican pueblos, has long since departed.
pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.