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05/02/2013

Native American tribe plans to dub Star Wars in Navajo

Star wars
This 1977 publicity photo provided by 20th Century-Fox Film Corporation shows, from left, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill in a scene from the film, Star Wars

A perennial question facing scientists and researchers is how to save endangered species, like plants or animals, and languages on the verge of extinction.

Now someone has come up with a unique idea, at least to save one language: to dub a classic Hollywood movie in it.

The largest Native American tribe in the United States is looking to dub Star Wars in Navajo to help preserve the native language.

A Reuters report says that fluent Navajo speakers have been invited for a casting call in Window Rock in northern Arizona to dub the roles of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and others.

Manuelito Wheeler, director of the Navajo Nation Museum, told Reuters that he first came up with the idea 13 years ago as a way to preserve the consonant-rich Navajo language, believed to be spoken by about 170,000 people, according to government figures.

“We thought this would be a provocative and effective way to help try to preserve the language and at the same time preserve the culture,” Wheeler told Reuters. “What better movie to do this than Star Wars?”

Wheeler said he believes the popular science fiction movie will resonate with the Navajo people with its universal theme of good versus evil.

The project was given the go-ahead about 18 months ago.

Endangered languages are on the brink of extinction. According to UNESCO, a language is endangered when parents no longer teach it to their children and it is no longer used in everyday life.

A language is considered nearly extinct when it is spoken by only a few elderly native speakers.

UNESCO lists 577 languages as critically endangered.

RELATED: Dying languages: scientists fret as one disappears every 14 days

Raveena Aulakh is the Star's environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term, and wildlife. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh

Comments

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I love it! Star Wars is an epic story and EVERYONE should be able to enjoy it in their native language.

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