Since LLC launched the Online Lakota Dictionary in December 2008, our rapidly growing online community has made many requests and suggestions for new Lakota words to meet modern needs. And, the Forum section of the site has become a buzz of activity for serious language learners. Users of the Forums learn, read and write Lakota and encourage Lakota literacy using consistent spelling.
Tomas Beauchamp, LLC Communications Associate, conducted a written interview with Nina Webster, a Forum moderator, to give new and future users more information. To access the Forums visit the Online Lakota Dictionary and click on “Forums” at the top of the page; see http://www.lakotadictionary.org/
TB: Nina, tell me more about the Forum.
NW: There are nearly 400 members now, and more join every day - from absolute beginners to fluent and native speakers. New members have access to the Interactive Textbook and some preliminary activities, and after taking a very simple Entry Test to show that they can look up and type correctly a few words from the New Lakota Dictionary (NLD) they can enter the main Discussion forums. These are very lively! We are translating Lakota texts, writing our own short texts, listening to sound files of native Lakota speakers and transcribing them, asking questions, making mistakes, sharing our problems and helping each other out – we do write in English too! As an aid to self-study, this Forum and the NLD are quite simply the best resources available to serious students of Lakota. For the future, we envisage a completely structured Forum with sequential learning modules, but that will take some time to evolve.
TB: When I went through the online registration process I was asked to respond to several questions and to complete some short quizzes. Why is this necessary?
NW: It's important that the Forum has a friendly and relaxed environment, so it's good to know something about each other. The questions are not intrusive, and the responses help us to evaluate the content of the Forum to ensure that it meets the needs of the members.
TB: So far, my favorite part of the Forum is the “Interactive Textbook,” and especially hearing Lakota sounds and words and typing in Lakota words. The computer that I was using already had the Lakota fonts installed. How can new users obtain the Lakota Font Bundle and Keyboard?
NW: The Forum incorporates fonts and a Virtual Keyboard that enables typing Lakota within the Forum itself, so it isn't necessary to download or install anything to become a member. In the near future we plan to add a spellchecker and a lemmatizer (typing a verb into the lemmatizer will reveal its complete conjugation). The advantage of having the Lakota Keyboard and Fonts Bundle is that the Standard Lakota Orthography can be typed in any text editor outside the Forum. It's available here: http://stores.languagepress.com/Categories.bok?category=Software
TB: English is my native language and I’ve just starting to learn Lakota. Can you give me any insight that might help improve my language learning experience?
NW: Get the New Lakota Dictionary, join the Forum!! And read, listen, write, speak (to yourself if necessary!). Be aware that there's no 'quick fix', learning Lakota is just like learning any foreign language, but it's intensely rewarding.
Meet Nina Webster
I'm English, living in Bristol, south-west UK. Most of my working life was spent in accounts, but having recently retired I can see more of my family now (my son and daughter-in-law, and my two grandsons live nearby). And of course, I can devote the rest of my time to the Forum and Lakota language! I've always had a love of languages, and some eight years ago I came across some Lakota words in a book I was reading. I was intrigued and so my studies began.
Since that time I've been privileged to be one of Jan Ullrich's volunteers, helping to organize the electronic data-base, editing and proof-reading – I had to learn some new computer skills too!