This year it was announced that Star Wars: A New Hope would be dubbed into Navajo. The first time a film is translated into an indigenous language of North America. How cool is that? Really cool actually. The indigenous languages have been around since well..the beginning. The Navajo people, or Diné, are the largest tribe in the United States, making it important for them to take the lead in making things of popular culture more indigenous.
Now having an elementary knowledge of my own language (Ojibwemowin), I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to translate. From what I understand from the video, the Navajo language is more descriptive than English (so is Ojibwe!), so it takes more words to say something as simple as blueberry pie.
What I find most intriguing is that they chose Star Wars. They could’ve chosen a ‘classic’ such as The Wizard of Oz or Aladdin. But no, they chose Star Wars. I think that this speaks volumes as it is one of the few examples that translates across so many cultures, not just language wise but storytelling, lesson learning and an all around good feeling.
I hope that the Navajo Nation receives funding to at least dub IV-V-VI. Then perhaps other indigenous languages across the world will have similar opportunities to help promote interest in languages that are endangered.
- Star Wars Dubbing (navajonow.com)