Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tibetan dialect "Mustang" alive in the US (audio)

Alina Simone (PRI's The World, 6-30-16); Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly
Himalayan Mustang District, now a part of Nepal, formerly Tibet (Jmhullot/wiki)
Buddhist prayer flags fly throughout the Himalayas: Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, India...
Nawang Tsering Gurungat at Diversity Square (Alina Simone)

There's a Tibetan dialect called "Mustang," and it's staying alive in the US
Stepping off the train in Jackson Heights, Queens [New York], on a recent Sunday, Alina Simone discovered two groups doing sonic battle in a courtyard ringed with shops:

There was a Tibetan religious service led by crimson-robed Buddhist monks versus a "Bangladeshi Americans for Bernie Sanders" rally. Later, looking up the name of the place, it's Diversity Square.

It's no surprise, given this is the epicenter of the most diverse neighborhood in America.
More than 130 different languages are spoken in Jackson Heights, but many of them are from places so small, so remote, they get lost in the commotion. Take Mustang [now claimed by Nepal], a dialect of Tibetan with only 7,500 speakers worldwide — 800 of whom live in the US.
Dialects like Mustang — also referred to as “Mustangi” — are waging quiet fights here for time, attention, and survival. What exactly are they fighting against?

We could say it's the pursuit of the American Dream itself. Given the challenges of starting a new life halfway across the world, even when a language is spoken at home, English is often what kids focus on learning.
As language activist Nawang Gurung explains: “Parents work 12 to 15 hours in restaurants, nanny jobs, as nail technicians....Now if parents talk to their kids in Mustangi dialect, kids are gonna respond in English.”
Nawang has become a custodian of Mustang here in New York City. “Language represents your identity,” he explains. “Who you are. If the Mustangi dialect vanishes, it's slowly gonna mean, it has a totally new identity.”
Pema, Domaseri, and Domaseri at Diversity Square every weekend attending Mustang Sunday. Even in a place as diverse as Jackson Heights, it can be difficult to explain where it is they come from, the three say (Alina Simone).

“When we say Mustang, not many people get it. And when we say Tibet, ‘Oh! That's China, basically.”
These new identities are being forged by families who are part of a massive migration from the Himalayas, accelerated by last year's major earthquake in Nepal and a downturn in tourism. According to Nawang, the result for mountain people like the Mustang has been “a rapid population decline compared to other regions in Nepal."
His fear is that as the sparse population of Mustang speakers scatters, soon there won’t be anyone to learn from. So together with the Endangered Language Alliance here in New York, he is working to create a kind of Mustang Library of Congress. It’s part of a project called Voices of the Himalayas, a digital archive that will preserve Himalayan oral history, folklore and song, handed down over hundreds of years. More

Himalayan lore: Inner Earth "Agartha"
(Agarthissml) What is the legend of the underworld realm of Agartha, and what mysteries surround it? 

Presented by Astrambiente Lazio; created by Valeria Temperini, Michela Rosarno, and Valerio Panfoli, in cooperation with Adriana Bisirri, professor and principal of the SSML Gregorio VII University in Rome.

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