Among the variety of the world languages spoken by millions of people, the languages of the native peoples of America have always been of interest to linguists and ethnographers. It is because the dialects of Indian tribes have quite a lot of unique expressions and interpretations, which are expressed in idioms and set expressions. Nevertheless, most of the inhabitants of Indian reservations speak English today as many of them have already been sufficiently assimilated into American culture.
The Mdewakanton Lakota language, also known as the Santee Sioux language, is a dialect of the Dakota language spoken by the Mdewakanton band of the Dakota Sioux people. It is a member of the Siouan language family. The language is considered to be endangered, with only a few fluent speakers remaining. Efforts are being made to revive and preserve the language.
This essay analyzes Native American verbal communication. It focuses on Dakota Sioux people, who used to speak Mdewakanton (Lakota Sioux) language. The traits of the language still exist in the way they speak.
Native American Verbal Communication
A video that may help to analyze the linguistic features of the Indians of this tribe is taken as an example, where quite many native people of the community who gathered for the protest were present. It was a meeting against the construction of a pipe system that could negatively affect the state of the environment and disrupt the natural surroundings of people (Al Jazeera English, 2016). At this meeting, the Indians acted to prevent interference on their land, and, despite the fact that most of those present spoke English, their speech was distinguished by certain features.
For example, one of the participants in the video calls himself a descendant of the great warriors who fought on these lands (Al Jazeera English, 2016). Despite the fact that battles for independence ended decades ago, locals still remember their ancestors and often turn to their memories. Besides, this topic, raised by the native people of America, is often found in their literature, where the Indian nation describes the valor of their warriors (Hernandez, 2016).
In the speech of another participant in the video, the word “sacred” is used several times, which indicates the attempts of these people to preserve their traditions and their close connection with religion, which has not been reduced for centuries (Al Jazeera English, 2016). Another word that was met in the woman’s speech is “han,” which means “yes” (Elbert, 2016). Here, it is possible to see that brevity in short communicative utterances is also typical for the residents.
Lakota Sioux Language Vs. English
While talking about the difference between a more familiar language spoken in society and the Mdewakanton’s, it can be noted that the communication of the Indian tribe is characterized by relative simplicity. Although their phonetics may seem unusual, the phrases are short. As it is known, the Indians never expressed an excessive desire to talk a lot. Consequently, their language can not be called too complex regarding the structure. According to Elbert (2016), their speech is not full of long and extended sentences, unlike our habitual cultural group.
The communication traits of the Indians, as a rule, prove the cultural distinctiveness of these people, which many scholars and ordinary men note. As Hernandez (2016) remarks, the language of the Mdewakanton tribe is characterized by a simple structure. However, it covers the topics that are important for the natives. The connection with the past, the absence of complex grammatical and lexical structures, as well as the desire to convey deep thoughts as briefly as possible are the features of the linguistic composition of this cultural group.
Thus, although many Indian tribes turn to their ancestors’ knowledge, they are using their native language less frequently today than before. Due to our experience, it is possible to assume that the primary difference between them and our culture is another way of thinking and expressing thoughts. Ordinary citizens do not think the way the Indians do; therefore, our perception of the world and environment does not let us compare ourselves with the natives and helps to understand the key distinctive features of their culture.
Al Jazeera English (2016). North Dakota Native Americans protest pipeline plans. Web.
Elbert, L. (2016). Dakota language: Past, present, and future. Web.
Hernandez, S. R. (2016). Toward a Dakota literature tradition: Examining Dakota literature through the lens of critical nationalism. Web.