By Charlene Wilkinson, for GLU
January 11, 2018, marked the beginning of a new language revitalisation project in the Arawak community of Wakapoa, Region Two, Guyana. For some time now, observers both inside and outside the community have noted that the only people who can and do speak Lokono, the traditional language of the community, are the elderly.
The Toshao and Council of Wakapoa, in order to reverse this situation, approached the Guyana Languages Unit (GLU) for help, after the Toshao and I met at the National Toshaos Council Conference last year. GLU in turn made contact with the International Centre for Caribbean Language Research, University of the West Indies, which funded a 10-day visit to Wakapoa by Lokono language scholar Daidrah Smith. UG’s Office of Planning and International Engagement helped to fund the UG contingent.
Smith met with the families whose elders still speak Lokono and did some preliminary language documentation. An indispensable support person on the project was UG’s Learning Resource Centre camera operator Osei Browne. The high point of this leg of the project was the presentation of an orthography (writing system) to the community over two workshops, where the community members present were asked to make decisions about the final details of the orthography. Students and their lecturers from the University of Guyana were on hand to witness and participate in the first workshop, which took place on January 15.
The poster “All is not lost” (pictured above) is a pictorial journey through the January project and a projection of activities to come.
PHOTO GALLERY: WAKAPOA VISIT (photos by Osei Browne)