Tag Archives: Korean

I Love Menominee: Student Speaks Endangered Language

2 Mar

A middle school student was reprimanded recently for saying “I love you” in her the Menominee language while at school.  Miranda Washinawatok was benched from her basketball game because her teacher couldn’t understand what she was saying.  The teacher said the Wisconsin student could not speak in the endangered Native American language because it kept the teacher from knowing what she was saying.

When I was growing up in New Jersey, it was common to hearing foreign languages—mainly Korean—in the hallways or on the playground.  Maybe there were times when I had to remind my friends to translate for me, but I don’t remember the teachers ever telling students they weren’t allowed to speak in their native language.  Of course, non-native English speakers attended ESL and encouraged to learn English, and you weren’t allowed to whisper or talk in class regardless of what language you were speaking in.  There was, however, never a sense that a student wasn’t allowed to speak in a foreign language among his or her friends.

However, that has not been the case elsewhere in the world.  My ancestors from my mother’s side were Sami, from the Swedish Lapland, and there are many stories of children not being allowed to speak their native Sami language and the language was not taught in schools.  Today there are nine living Sami languages, but some Sami languages are critically endangered.

Likewise, the Menominee language that the Wisconsin middle schooler said “I love you in” is a critically endangered language.  The language is an Algonquian language used by the Native American Menominee tribe in the Midwest.

Wikipedia reports:

According to a 1997 report by the Menominee Historic Preservation Office, 39 people speak Menominee as their first language, all of whom are elderly; 26 speak it as their second language; and 65 others have learned some of it for the purpose of understanding the language and/or teaching it to others.

If you’re interested in learning Menominee, check out this English-Menominee dictionary or this tutorial.

You may also be interested in the College of Menominee Nation, which is working on a grant called “Menominee Language Revitalization: Teaching the Community” that proposes the following:

The language project will focus on implementing weekly “Language Tables” at six sites on the Menominee Indian Reservation. A Language Table is a place where a person can go and learn Menominee Language. The Language Tables, held on a year round basis, are set up for beginning learners as well as for advanced learners. A fluent Menominee will be in attendance at all Language Tables. Most often, Language Tables will start with a pot luck meal.

Here’s the website for the Menominee tribe

So just how do you say “I love you” in Menominee?  “Tapanaew” means love.

φάε: Spinach & Kimchee Pies — My Childhood in Savory Pastry Form

14 Mar

I grew up in a town in New Jersey that was heavily populated by Korean Americans.  You can imagine my delight then when I stumbled upon a kimchee variation of spanikopita.  It was like my childhood in savory pastry form!

On her ever-popular blog, Not Eating Out in New York, Cathy Erway tells how her friend inspired her to make spanikopita.  When she didn’t have any feta cheese in her fridge to make the spinach pie, she decided on a unique alternative: kimchee.  “I’ll take spicy, briny, tart pickled cabbage over feta this time,” she wrote.


Spinach & Kimchee Pie. Photo via Not Eating Out in New York. Used with permission.

For anyone who doesn’t know, spanikopita is the name of a Greek spinach pie that is made out of delicious layers of phyllo dough, spinach, feta cheese, egg, and onion.  This being the season of Great Lent, I should point out that there is also a vegan version that does not contain cheese.

Kimchee, meanwhile, is a popular Korean dish of fermented vegetables.  The main vegetable is cabbage but it could also have onions and cucumbers in it.  Kimchee is having its moment right now.  It’s being packaged up and branded to the foodie hipster crowd.  The brand Cathy uses in her recipe is her friend Kheedim Oh’s Mama O’s Kimchee, but I also discovered via Joy Deangdeelert Cho’s blog, oh joy!, the brand Mother In Law’s Kimchi, which I then stumbled upon at Whole Foods.

Cathy’s spinach & kimchee pies are not your yiayia’s spanikopita.  She combined the spinach and kimchee and folded it into pastry dough.  Get the full recipe and its health benefits on the Not Eating Out in New York blog.