Today I am extremely honored and proud to feature an interview with 2 fellow Chileans, Victor and Fiestoforo from Kimeltuwe, one of the most popular sites to learn Mapudungun (they have a really good Facebook page). Mapudungun is the biggest indigenous language spoken in Chile and Argentina. For a long time, its use was frowned upon (despite Chilean and Argentinean Spanish having plenty of loan words from Mapudungun), but currently, there is a revival of the language and people have managed to re-appreciate the strong input of Mapuche culture in our heritage. Despite my interests in language learning are leaned through another part of the world, I feel great admiration for those who are interested in minority languages and they deserve as much awareness and appreciation as people who learn many popular languages.
Now, let’s get to know the people and their motivation behind this wonderful project.
I would like to know more about you. Who are you and what do you do?
Mari mari! (Hello in Mapudungun). We are Kimeltuwe (place of learning), a team who wants to spread the teaching and learning of Mapudungun via Internet. We are Victor Carilaf (primary and Mapudungun school teacher) and Fiestoforo (illustrator and Mapudungun student). We have different pages on social networks named Kimeltuwe, in which we publish graphic and video material about different topics, with the purpose of teaching Mapudungun and supporting teachers for their classes. We do most of our job via the Internet, as we met each other online a couple of years ago and since 2014, we started Kimeltuwe.
How did you manage to be interested in languages, especially Mapudungun?
In Victor’s situation, he has spoken Mapudungun since his childhood at home, and he has been interested in the last years of spreading it through social media, helping those who have questions, and also doing his own translations. Fiestoforo has been always interested in languages. He studied translation which did gave him some formal instruction in languages. He taught himself Mapudungun at first as he had no relatives that spoke it. He later went to workshops and formal classes, where he met peñi and lamgen (cordial treatment for men and women) who spoke it and could practice with them.
What has been your family and friends’ perception about this project?
Many of them appreciate that we are spreading the word, especially how we do it. We have managed to create awareness with all ages, from the very young to the very old. Also, we believe there has been a strong awareness and recognition of many Chileans regarding Mapudungun, which probably there wasn’t any due to lack of information. There are people who still believe that Mapudungun is no longer spoken, that there are no grammar rules, and so on, but slowly all of this is being debunked.
What is the main purpose behind Kimeltuwe? What has been the biggest obstacle you have faced?
The main purpose is the circulation of materials for teaching and learning Mapudungun through social media and new technologies. We try to update our social media pages everyday with illustrations and videos to teach pronunciation. We try to keep it quite simple and practical, to teach the language efficiently, but we also consider certain daily events and current ones too. Our biggest obstacle is probably not being able to dedicate more time to this project and lacking budget to create better materials, but we hope to solve this soon.
What are the next steps for Kimeltuwe?
Creating actual, printed materials that allow us to get right to the classrooms and out of the Internet. Right now, our friends who want to use our material, they must print them out themselves. We publish our materials in high resolution to make things easy, but that might be a problem when it comes to making lots of copies. This is why we are creating xerox-friendly printouts for classrooms and offering it to teachers who might need it.
This is rather a personal question, is there any language (besides Mapudungun) that interests you or you are currently learning? What are they and what do you use to learn them?
Honestly, we have focused a lot in Mapudungun because it is a language we master well as a group, but we might consider the idea to create materials for other languages such as Aymara or Runa Simi (Quechua). We were in contact with some teachers of these languages, but it is really hard when we are very dedicated to one language in particular.
Would you care to share some advice or anecdotes for my readers?
There is a really good phrase in Mapudungun: “Zungun mew kimngekey ta kümeke che”: Good people are known by word. For those who want to learn Mapudungun, we must tell you it is highly rewarding experience. Languages do have a certain way of viewing the world, so learning a language like Mapudungun makes your culture and thinking richer.
Chaltu mai! Thank you!
You can contact Kimeltuwe through their site http://www.kmm.cl