Apache (Jicarilla)

Aug 15th, 1997 | By | Category: 9-2: Re-envisioning Indian Education, Media Reviews

Audio cassette tapes (4 hours) with 150-page text
by Alan Wilson and Rita Vigil Martine
Published by Audio-Forum, Guilford, Conn., $65.

Review by Lorene Willis

I am a member of the Jicarilla Apache Tribe and not a speaker of the Jicarilla language. When I reviewed the tapes and study guide written by Alan Wilson with Rita Vigil Martine, I found them to be very helpful in learning the Jicarilla Apache language.

I have attended a few classes here in Dulce, N.M., but for the most part, the instructors have not explained the many different meanings that can result from changing something as simple as tone. I haven’t found a book, class, or individual who can clearly explain the structure. I thought I would be forced to memorize words, which at my age, is very difficult.

The Jicarilla language is very descriptive but as an Athabascan language, the glottal stops and nasal tones are hard to speak and to hear. The tapes provided in the lessons are clear, and I can hear the differences in pitch, tone, and nasal tones over and over again.

The accompanying study guide helps me understand how suffixes and prefixes change the meaning of words. I also like the way the study guide explains tenses and plurals. I definitely feel that non-speakers of Jicarilla Apache language should buy this book. I also suggest that more advanced materials be published to give more fluency to non-speakers determined to learn this language.

A fluent speaker of Jicarilla Apache who reviewed the tapes commented that when fluent speakers converse, many of their words are chopped off. They can be understood by those who speak Jicarilla, but he said the tapes are good for teaching people who do not speak the language.

Bryan Vigil, a fluent speaker, said in general, the tapes are good although a few Navajo words are used. Since there are many dialects from different Jicarilla families, he suggested that Rita Martine should acknowledge the tapes are her version. He also suggested a more advanced version should include the do’s and don’t’s of Jicarilla practices.

Alan Wilson is a Harvard-trained linguist. Rita V. Martine is a native speaker of Jicarilla Apache. Audio-Forum has published courses in 13 other Native American languages. For a catalog, call 800 243-1234.

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