Long before the development of Los Angeles, Southern California was known for its grasslands, estuaries and oak-covered foothills. The original people of Los Angeles, the Tongva, defined their world as Tovaangar. https://lat.ms/2J9YXN9
This world was theirs before anyone else, before strangers arrived and Tovaangar disappeared and the language eventually stopped being spoken. In the silence, it lived in notebooks and papers collected by museums. https://lat.ms/2VRHOOc
It recently surfaced, however, on a Facebook page with a Soundcloud link, and today it is taught in a classroom in San Pedro where students are working to reclaim its place in the world. https://lat.ms/2VRHOOc
Each month they gather, practicing pronunciation, mastering the use of particles, singing songs and playing word games under the guidance of Pam Munro, a linguist from UCLA who has been teaching these classes for 15 years. https://lat.ms/2VRHOOc
She avoids calling Tongva extinct; that, she said, is a hurtful pronouncement upon a culture that still exists and a world that in the eyes of many has never disappeared. https://lat.ms/2VRHOOc
Click below to listen to the inflections and melody of Tongva, as spoken by its students and teacher. https://lat.ms/2LAfWdo
The Times asked three local educators to formulate questions based on our story of the Tongva language and efforts to revive it.
Teachers, here is a study guide to teach about Tongva in your classrooms: https://lat.ms/2LvLYar
You can follow @latimes.