dimecres, de setembre 13, 2006

Our Victims (English [with guest appearances by Deitsch & Lenape])

I talk a lot about my Welshness, but I am more than my Welshness, I am also Pennsylvania German, Deitsch, as they say...

My German ancestors came to the land I was born on in 1752, on a ship called the Charming Nancy, and the Scotch Irish they married into and subsequently absorbed came sometime in the 1690's. At a minimum, My mother's family has been in what would become Monroe County, Pennsylvania, for at least 254 years. My ancestors settled a land where the Lenape lived, where they had lived for so many more generations. I was investigating them tonight, since probably, somewhere along the way, some Lenape coupled with someone in my family and passed his or her genes on to me, and I have long wanted to learn a Native American language.

I found this link:
http://www.talk-lenape.com/introduction.php

Look at those pictures of those old women, dying embers of an ancient people. Imagine what is like to be those old women, the last of your kind, knowing that you hold the key to your entire people's history, knowledge, culture. Knowing that your interpretation of all the love, the sadness, the stories, the songs of your people will be memorialized in crackling voices on casette tapes, for all time, as long as casette tapes are turned to CDs and CDs are converted to mp3's and so forth.

If you go to this link:
http://www.talk-lenape.com/search.php?ls=english&q=cat

Then scroll down to the sound file for the green caterpillar, you can actually hear the pain in the speaker's voice, one of those two old women, croaking out the words of the language she dreamed in, prayed in, loved in, hoped in.

It's painful to me.

Existentially painful.

My ancestors destroyed those people. That much is a fact. The blood, real or imagined, physical or cultural, is on my hands.

I benefit from that genocide, each and everyday.

I love my ancestors, my Celtic side tells me to honor them, and I do, and I want to, and still...

I'm sure it didn't actually have to be this way; it could have been different, and as I look at those two old women on lawn chairs (speaking to each other in their ancient language?), I remind myself how cruel my fellow ape descendants are, period, not can be, are, have been, are presently, and surely will be again, and reach out across time to two old women I've never known, realizing, but for the Grace of God, for the randomness of the Great Question Mark, coupled with the tenacity of my other ancestors, I would know no more of Welsh than I know of Lenape...

Unless you have crossed the bridge to understanding the world through another language, you will never know why the potential, eternal loss of Lenape, or any human language, bothers me so. You are trapped in a pale world of English-only. You have no idea of the colors you could see if you could see them in a different linguistic reality. You are limited by purloined French verbiage, a clutch of Germanic farm words, and some wildly radical and confused prepositions, mixed together like Polish bigos, in a tasty, yet sloshy jumble of largely fricative and affricate consonants that whore around with vowels that dangle their offglides like three-dollar hookers twirl their belts.

Language is all there is of us. Language is all that separates us from the Chimps.

No, it really is; if you believe otherwise, you are wrong. Sorry, just wrong, ignorant, foolish, lost, bamboozled. If you like the spell you're under, by all means, go forth and die that way. To be sure, the traces of Lenape will far outlive any memory of you or your foolishness, blessed be the Web...

I listened to the sound file on this page over and over and over again:
http://www.talk-lenape.com/search.php?ls=english&q=God

I found some small comfort in revivifying that artifact in particular.

Tonight I may whisper it as I sleep: kishelëmùkònk

Perhaps some tiny solace will come to me as I drift into yet another fitful slumber.

4 comentaris:

Anònim ha dit...

Cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon.

Sigh.

ptownnyc

Gwyddno Schenectady ha dit...

'Na wir. A phob dydd, y gwir yw 'mod i'n falch bod y Gymraeg yn fyw o hyd, er gwaethaf pawb a phopeth...

Tree ha dit...

Thanks for sharing this. I've listened to several of the sound files.

It affects me deeply, in ways I can't articulate.

Bryce ha dit...

That was a wonderful story in both a good and sad way. Thank you for sharing it.

If you're interested in helping preserve the Deitsch language, you might want to check out this site:

Deitsch wiki browser