ENGLISH/INUKTITUT
traditionandtransition@mun.ca        
    

Research Projects

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Children’s Song, Memory and Language

Researcher: Tom Gordon
Contact email: tgordon@mun.ca

The songs we learn in childhood are often the first vehicles for language and rich reservoirs of cultural memory. Wanting to explore that memory in the service of revitalizing Inuktitut among Nunatsiavut’s youngest generation is at the core of a recently launched Tradition & Transition project. Children’s Song, Memory and Language is looking to document and interpret a Labrador Inuktitut children’s song literature as a way of sharing intergenerational memory and as a new tool for language revitalization.

Research for the project begins with conversations with Nunatsiavut Elders about the songs and song memories of their childhoods. A touchstone for those conversations will be the 1872 publication Imgerutsit nôtiggit 100, a collection of (as it happens) 101 children’s songs and canons translated from German into Inuktitut. This little volume was a central curricular item in the Moravian schools on the Labrador coast for well more than a century and a very popular mainstay in domestic entertainment.

Along with Elders, community musicians and teachers will be asked about the songs they learned as children and the songs they sing with children. The project’s eventual outcomes will include the production of an anthology of children’s song in Labrador Inuktitut, both in CD and print forms. Song stories will connect the memories of Elders and singers to today’s children. Memorial University’s Tom Gordon and graduate student Carolyn Chong will be visiting coastal communities to collect songs and memories. They will be looking for suggestions for songs and about the best ways to share these songs with the next generation.