Rosetta Stone develops Chitimacha Language program

by Jan 25, 2010NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments


ARLINGTON, Va.- Rosetta Stone Inc. (NYSE: RST), a leading provider of technology-based language learning solutions, has announced the release of the Chitimacha language version of Rosetta Stone® software for exclusive use by the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana. Despite the death of the last fluent speaker in 1940, the Chitimacha tribe is reviving its language through collaboration with the Rosetta Stone Endangered Language Program.

The Rosetta Stone immersion approach enables language learners to develop everyday proficiency by linking meaning and structure of a new language directly to real world objects and events without translation. The Chitimacha language version of the software has been created through a Rosetta Stone corporate grant with all distribution rights belonging to the tribe.

“We are honored that the Rosetta Stone Endangered Language Program can help the Chitimacha reclaim a piece of their heritage and cultural identity,” said Marion Bittinger, manager of the Rosetta Stone Endangered Language Program. “We are optimistic our work with indigenous groups will be a step towards reversing the tide of global language extinction.”

With no native Chitimacha speakers in existence, the tribe’s Cultural Department began its language revitalization program in 1997, using wax cylinder recordings and field notes made 65 years before by renowned linguist Morris Swadesh. The recordings and field notes allowed a few tribal members to immerse themselves in the complex grammar and vocabulary of the dormant language and learn to pronounce the difficult sequences of sounds. As a result of the grant, Rosetta Stone staff members collaborated in the adaptation of the software to teach concepts and structures using only the Chitimacha language.

“Language is really the heart of any culture. It’s not just about learning the words – it’s about the connection to your past,” said Kimberly Walden, Cultural Director of the Chitimacha Tribe and a key figure in the three-year effort to customize, record and produce the software. “The Rosetta Stone component of our language revitalization program will transform the way the Chitimacha language is taught. It will allow us to reach our entire membership regardless of their location and will enable the tribe as a whole to communicate as we did more than 75 years ago.” 

The Rosetta Stone Endangered Language Program has developed software for several indigenous languages, including Mohawk (Kanien’keha), the coastal dialect of Inupiaq in Alaska and Inuttitut in Labrador, Canada. The North Slope Inupiaq and Navajo languages are also currently under development with Rosetta Stone.

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