Essay On Lakota Language

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Lakota Language

Lakota is a Siouan language which is spoken by its people (Lakota people) who belong to the Sioux tribes. It is one of the dialects of the Sioux language apart from Dakota and Nakota (Powers, 2009). Sioux is spoken by more than 30,000 people in the US and Canada and is therefore positioned at number five amongst the most spoken native languages in the United States. Lakota is one of the three major regional varieties comprising of Western Dakota and Eastern Dakota. Western Dakota also known as Yankton-Yanktonai is at the middle of Eastern Dakota and Lakota.
Lakota language is polysynthetic in that its nouns are both simple and/or derived. Nouns which are derived are classified into two forms namely compound and
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Out of those inhabitants, only 6,000 are native speakers of the language (Powers, 2009). Today, the population of first-language Lakota speakers is estimated to be 2,000. This number is barely 2% of the total population of Lakota. The language is speculated to become extinct in the near future.
Why Lakota Language Is Dying
A significant epidemic of smallpox destroyed more than half of Lakota tribes between 1722 and 1780 (Irvine & Gal, 2008). For this reason, the language speakers were greatly reduced. Another reason for the dying of the language is a series of warfare between the Lakota bands and the U.S. Army which also reduced their numbers. In 1877, they were forced to sign a treaty that ceded Black Hills to US and since then, they have been confined into Western South reservations of Dakota (Irvine & Gal, 2008).
Influence by American culture has also played a big role to reducing the frequency with which Lakota language is spoken. In addition, surveys show that transmission of the language to children stopped in mid-1950s meaning an average Lakota speaker is about 66 years old (Powers, 2009). These speakers are dying without passing the language to the next
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