Letter – Mohawk language article misconstrued

I wish to respond to the articles recently published in Two Row Times, September 16, 2015 regarding “Mohawk Language Article” and “Fake Mohawk?”  Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.

It is unfortunate, however, that the article Ga nyenh geh ha gah – The Mohawk language has changed (September 9, 2015) – was taken out of context and misconstrued.

By no means was I criticizing an entire generation of people who are finally showing an interest in learning their language.  In fact, I applaud those that have taken the time and interest to learn. The intent of the article was to bring awareness of what is truly happening to Six Nations Ga nyenh geh ha gah.  In this instance, I wanted to point out that the Six Nations Mohawk language remain as the original Six Nations Mohawk whether written or spoken.  We need to embrace the original Six Nations language and not embody a new language.  Six Nations Mohawk has a specific pronunciation and meaning for every word.

From the article, the following is an example of what I am trying to get across to people:

Tohsa sewana:Khwen — I am assuming this interprets to: “Don’t get mad.”

Doh sa enh se wa na gonh — Six Nations Mohawk: “Don’t get mad.”

Many times I have been approached by others including fluent speakers who have gone on to the Skyworld, regarding correct pronunciation and to the infusion of other dialects.  From my experience we all spoke the same dialect.  There was no difference…from Townline Road, Bateman Line, Sour Springs Road to River Range Road, we all spoke the same and understood each other.  Can you imagine if each family spoke a different dialect?  We’d be lost.

First language speakers share the same opinion and concern that integrating and incorporating other Mohawk dialects into the original Six Nations Mohawk will not only become eroded but eventually become extinct.

For those that are second language speakers/teachers, I would strongly recommend the use of the pronunciation key used by the Mohawk of Six Nations that was written and published in 1958 by Julia L. Jamieson, Founder, Organizer and Teacher of the Mohawk School at David Thomas Memorial Hall.  Also tapes produced by Laura Johnson, Mini Jacobs, Dolly Hill, Vina Loft and Peter Loft be used as another source.

Don’t throw away the original Six Nations Mohawk!

Fran Hill

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