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Samaritan script carved into wood.
Samaritan script carved into wood.

Using art to preserve rare alphabets

What started as a way to make unique Christmas gifts for family and friends has grown into a passion to admire and preserve some of the rarest writing systems in the world.

For the last few years, Burlington writer Tim Brookes has created handmade wood carvings in an attempt to help save alphabets at risk of vanishing. Brookes is an accomplished author who directs the writing program at Champlain College. While there are thousands of spoken languages worldwide, Brookes says there are fewer than a hundred alphabets, and many of them are threatened with extinction.

Tim Brookes will take some of the carvings in his "Endangered Alphabets" art and literacy project on the road again this summer. He spoke with Todd Moe about the reasons why written letters and symbols are disappearing, and his memorial to them.  Go to full article
Grant Barrett takes notes on a listener's question.
Grant Barrett takes notes on a listener's question.

Call-in: A Few Words with Grant Barrett

Grant Barrett, co-host of A Way With Words, heard Mondays at 1 pm on NCPR, was in town for the arts festival at SUNY Potsdam. He joined us on-air for an hour to take listener calls on word questions, linguistic oddities, and good talk about how we talk. Ellen Rocco hosts.  Go to full article
The story of Navajo code talkers (above) is well known. But Native American soldiers speaking Mohawk, Chochtaw, Commanche and other native languages also helped to win the war.
The story of Navajo code talkers (above) is well known. But Native American soldiers speaking Mohawk, Chochtaw, Commanche and other native languages also helped to win the war.

Mohawks seek recognition for WWII code talkers

A Mohawk veterans group wants the federal government to recognize the contributions of "code talkers" during the D-Day invasion of Europe during World War Two. The Navajo "code talkers" were the largest group of Native Americans during the 1940's to use their language skills in the south Pacific against the Japanese.

Jeffrey Whelan, a member of the St. Regis Mohawk Veterans Affairs Committee, says many other tribes participated as "code talkers" during the war. He says the St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council has sent a letter of request to the U.S. Mint to develop a Congressional Medal for nine veterans at Akwesasne who used their native language to confuse the Germans.  Go to full article

Natural Selections: Chipmunk language

Chipmunk, cluckmunk? Chipmunks and many animals have a variety of sounds used to express different things. Martha Foley and Dr. Curt Stager sample the vocabulary used by this common denizen of North Country woods and villages.  Go to full article
<i>Eastern Wind</i> dancers at last year's "Night of Nations" in Plattsburgh.
Eastern Wind dancers at last year's "Night of Nations" in Plattsburgh.

SUNY Plattsburgh celebrates international education, awareness

SUNY Plattsburgh is celebrating International Education Week with a series of workshops, lectures, debates and the "Night of Nations" cultural showcase on Saturday. Todd Moe talks with Student Association president, PJ Shah, an international student from Nepal, about the lure of attending college in Plattsburgh.  Go to full article

ESL classes in demand in North Country

Literacy of Northern New York is seeking volunteers to teach English as a second language classes. The not-for-profit is trying to keep up with a growing number of military and academic spouses and farmworkers who want to learn English in Jefferson, Lewis, and St. Lawrence counties. Deborah Tate runs the organization's ESL program. She told David Sommerstein the students come from all over the world.

You can volunteer to be a tutor by calling 782-4270 in Jefferson and Lewis counties, and 265-0194 in St. Lawrence county.  Go to full article

Heard up North: Yupper! (& Beaver Meadows)

Our ongoing exploration of North Country dialect continues. Lynn Klein lives in the Lewis County Town of Leyden.  Go to full article

Heard Up North: 3 Words (The Particular Language of the North Country, Cont.)

Southern-born Steve Diehl says there are 3 words he hears in Antwerp that he's never heard anywhere else. He called up in response to our series about the Language of the North Country. He spoke with Gregory Warner.  Go to full article

An Objection to the "F-word"

As we're told, English is a wonderfully elastic language. It's colorful, inclusive, and in a state of constant change. But some changes are less welcome than others. Commentator Paul Willcott has an issue with the expanding use of a particular bit of profanity.  Go to full article

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