A list of items in the past five volumes of LD&C (via RSS feed)
- Collecting Texts in Endangered Languages: The Chickasaw Narrative Bootcamp - December 1, 2016
Abstract: While data collection early in the Americanist tradition included texts as part of the Boasian triad, later developments in the generative tradition moved away from narratives. With a resurgence of attention to texts in both linguistic theory and language documentation, the literature on methodologies is growing (i.e., Chelliah 2001, Chafe 1980, Burton & Matthewson 2015). We outline our approach to collecting Chickasaw texts in what we call a ‘narrative bootcamp.’ Chickasaw is a severely threatened language and no longer in common daily use. Facilitating narrative collection with elder fluent speakers is an important goal, as is the cultivation of second language speakers and the training of linguists and tribal language professionals. Our bootcamps meet these goals. Moreover, we show many positive outcomes to this approach, including a positive sense of language use and ‘fun’ voiced by the elders, the corpus expansion that occurs by collecting and processing narratives onsite in the workshop, and field methods training for novices. Importantly, we find the sparking of personal recollections facilitates the collection of heretofore unrecorded narrative genres in Chickasaw. This approach offers an especially fruitful way to build and expand a text corpus for small communities of highly endangered languages.
- A tale of two worlds: A comparative study of language ecologies in Asia and the Americas - December 1, 2016
Abstract: Language use patterns of individual speech communities are largely conditioned by the different language ecologies in which they are immersed. We believe this ecological stance helps explain why minority languages of Asia are more likely to be sustainable than those in the Americas. We have identified fourteen traits which characterize ecologies in general, describing how they play out differently in the Americas versus Asia. Each trait is considered to be on a continuum, with opposing values that measure whether conditions are more or less favorable to language maintenance. On one side of the continuum, we discuss the values in the Americas, and explain how these are more favorable to language shift. On the other side of the scale, we talk about the values in Asia, and explain how these are more conducive to language maintenance. To show the application of these traits, the paper also includes two in-depth case studies as prototypical examples from each area, one from the Americas and one from Asia. We conclude with some comments about how these traits can be useful for those engaged in language development work.
- Animating Traditional Amazonian Storytelling: New Methods and Lessons from the Field - December 1, 2016
Abstract: In this paper I describe the development of digital animation of Desano traditional stories as a way to foster the inclusion of the Desano language in mainstream digital technology media, while promoting language maintenance and dissemination of cultural knowledge among youths and young adults. The project considers the shifting contexts in which many Desano people live in the contemporary period. Digital animated Desano stories provide important public, community, and scholarly validation for the language as living, dynamic, and vital. Qualitatively different from other written materials produced for the Desano communities, animated digital materials importantly make use of oral language (i.e., animation is accompanied by the original audio in Desano and Desano subtitles), thus exposing younger generations to the sounds and orthography of the language. Oral language-based resources via animation and narration of traditional stories can aid in the group’s language maintenance efforts as they reinforce the spoken language, familiarize the community with the orthography, and celebrate traditional knowledge.
- Bonggi language vitality and local interest in language-related efforts: A participatory sociolinguistic study - December 1, 2016
Abstract: In Sabah, as in the rest of Malaysia, many indigenous languages are threatened by language shift to (Sabah) Malay. The present study examines to what extent Bonggi, an Austronesian language spoken on Banggi Island (Sabah State), is affected by these developments. One research objective was to investigate Bonggi language vitality, and explore local (church) interest in and priorities for Bonggi language-related efforts. To minimize the influence of outside researchers, the methodological approach was based on a participatory approach to language development planning. A second objective was to examine the usefulness and appropriateness of the chosen approach. Regarding the first research objective, the findings suggest that Bonggi language vitality is still vigorous in more remote parts of the island, while language vitality is weaker in the areas closer to the main town of the island. At the same time bilingualism in (Sabah) Malay appears to be pervasive throughout the Bonggi speech community. The findings also indicate that interest in Bonggi language work is rather limited. A few Bonggi church communities, however, expressed interest in creating Bonggi songs. Concerning the second research objective, the review of the methodology shows that the chosen approach is not appropriate in the context of research-driven sociolinguistic studies.
- An assessment of linguistic development in a Kaqchikel immersion school - December 1, 2016
Abstract: This paper discusses two assessments designed to evaluate the progress of students in the Kaqchikel immersion program at Nimaläj Kaqchikel Amaq’. Picture-naming production and comprehension tasks were used to test for proficiency in phonology and morphology as well as lexical acquisition. The tests targeted basic contrasts which are important to Kaqchikel grammatical structure. While students are still struggling with many aspects of the language such as the phonology and positional verbs, many are able to understand and use singular vs. plural intransitive verb morphology. Results are being used to improve the program and inform future methodological and curricular decisions.
- The Value-Added Language Archive: Increasing Cultural Compatibility for Native American Communities - December 1, 2016
Abstract: Language archives represent a complicated theoretical and practical site of convergence for Native American language communities. In this article, I explore how functionality and operation of language archives are misaligned with core sociopolitical priorities for Native American tribes. In particular, I consider how the concept of cultural and political self-determination contextualizes lack of use or resistance to participation in language archiving projects. In addition to critical evaluation, I envision a dramatically expanded role for language archives, with the goal of increasing their cultural and political compatibility for Native American groups and beyond. I use the term, ‘value-added language archive’ to describe an archive with features and support services that address emergent needs of a diverse stakeholder community.
- Review of Corpus-based studies of lesser-described languages. The CorpAfroAs corpus of spoken AfroAsiatic languages - December 1, 2016
- A Brief History of Archiving in Language Documentation, with an Annotated Bibliography - December 1, 2016
Abstract: We survey the history of practices, theories, and trends in archiving for the purposes of language documentation and endangered language conservation. We identify four major periods in the history of such archiving. First, a period from before the time of Boas and Sapir until the early 1990s, in which analog materials were collected and deposited into physical repositories that were not easily accessible to many researchers or speaker communities. A second period began in the 1990s, when increased attention to language endangerment and the development of modern documentary linguistics engendered a renewed and redefined focus on archiving and an embrace of digital technology. A third period took shape in the early twenty-first century, where technological advancements and efforts to develop standards of practice met with important critiques. Finally, in the current period, conversations have arisen toward participatory models for archiving, which break traditional boundaries to expand the audiences and uses for archives while involving speaker communities directly in the archival process. Following the article, we provide an annotated bibliography of 85 publications from the literature surrounding archiving in documentary linguistics. This bibliography contains cornerstone contributions to theory and practice, and it also includes pieces that embody conversations representative of particular historical periods.
- Myaamiaataweenki eekincikoonihkiinki eeyoonki aapisaataweenki: A Miami Language Digital Tool for Language Reclamation - December 1, 2016
Abstract: In 1988, a young graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley began searching for materials on a little-known Algonquian language called Miami, which had ceased to be spoken sometime in the mid-twentieth century. Prompted by curiosity to describe this little-known language, the search uncovered two and a half centuries of documentation. This archival record would serve as the basis for the grammatical reconstruction of what is known today as the Miami-Illinois language, a central Algonquian language of the southern Great Lakes region. These materials are crucial not only to the reconstruction of Miami-Illinois, but also for the growing interests of Myaamia (Miami) people to reclaim their language and cultural heritage. The next twenty years proved to be a struggle in locating, duplicating, organizing and building a physical corpus of data for linguistic analysis and use in community revitalization. Language reconstruction from documentation requires tools for archival interaction and access that linguistically-based software and database applications lacked at the time. This prompted Myaamia researchers and language educators to seek out support for the construction of a digital archival database that met the needs of both tribal linguists and community culture and language revitalizationists. The first version of the Miami-Illinois Digital Archive (MIDA) became a reality in 2016 after support from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was provided to Miami University’s Myaamia Center to develop this unique research tool. This paper describes the challenges of working with digitized archival materials and how MIDA has filled the software tool gap between archives, linguists and revitalizationists. The Miami-Illinois Digital Archive can be found at http://www.ilaatawaakani.org.
- Ax toowú át wudikeen, my spirit soars: Tlingit direct acquisition and co-learning pilot project - September 1, 2016
Abstract: Many Indigenous languages, including Tlingit, are critically endangered and in urgent need of new adult speakers within the parent-aged generation. However, no consensus exists on language revitalization strategy, curricular design, lesson plans, assessment, or teaching methods. A small Tlingit cohort courageously developed and piloted a new curriculum and acquisition method by following a proven curricular design borrowed from an Interior Salish language, Nsyilxcn. This article introduces broad concepts such as the motivations behind language revitalization and quality immersion strategies for creating proficient speakers. It further describes recording techniques, the creation of sequenced curriculum designed for learners to raise each other up while teaching, and training learners to teach. It also presents a story of Tlingit language activism blended with Syilx language activism, specifically the direct acquisition method and its successful application by an adult cohort of beginner Tlingit learners.
- Why write in a language that (almost) no one can read? Twitter and the development of written literature - September 1, 2016
Abstract: The development of written literature in languages which are not usually written by their speakers can be confounded by a circular problem. Potential writers are reluctant or unmotivated to write in a language that no one can read. But at the same time, why learn to read a language for which there is nothing available to read? The writers wait for the readership, while the readers wait for material. In this paper I argue that Twitter can be used effectively to support burgeoning writers of languages for which no current readership exists by partnering writers with volunteer readers who do not need to know the target language. I lay out a model for this type of work that is an effective way for outside linguists and their students to support indigenous language activists.
- Review of F4transkript, a simple interface for efficient annotation - September 1, 2016
- Notes from the Field: Ponosakan: The Sounds of a Silently Dying Language of Indonesia, with Supporting Audio - September 1, 2016
Abstract: Ponosakan is a near-extinct Greater Central Philippine language spoken on the large central Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Little has appeared in the literature about the language, which now has only four fully fluent speakers, ranging in age from 70 to 92 years old. The purpose of this paper is to present a brief introduction to the language, including its phoneme system and grammatical subsystems. Accompanying this paper are over 300 audio recordings, to give the world an opportunity to hear a language that is rarely spoken even in its traditional home.
- Documenting Hawai‘i’s Sign Languages - September 1, 2016
Abstract: The Sign Language Documentation Training Center (SLDTC) offers workshops and linguistic training to users of threatened sign languages: currently American Sign Language (ASL) and Hawai‘i Sign Language (HSL). This project originated as a spin-off of the Language Documentation Training Center (LDTC), launched in 2004 by graduate students in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hawai‘i at Mnoa. In its third iteration, SLDTC has aimed to train users of threatened signed languages to document their own languages in ways that make the information useful for those interested in these languages. The SLDTC also aims to increase awareness of language endangerment and encourage signers to think critically about language revitalization, especially as it pertains to their own languages. The work has been rewarding, but not without its challenges, including technological and orthographic constraints, as well as the challenges of re-adapting spoken language materials for sign languages.
- Mapmaking for Language Documentation and Description - June 1, 2016
Abstract: This paper introduces readers to mapmaking as part of language documentation. We discuss some of the benefits and ethical challenges in producing good maps, drawing on linguistic geography and GIS literature. We then describe current tools and practices that are useful when creating maps of linguistic data, particularly using locations of field sites to identify language areas/boundaries. We demonstrate a basic workflow that uses CartoDB, before demonstrating a more complex workflow involving Google Maps and TileMill. We also discuss presentation and archiving of mapping products. The majority of the tools identified and used are open source or free to use.
- Collaboration or Participant Observation? Rethinking Models of 'Linguistic Social Work' - June 1, 2016
Abstract: Documentary linguists aspiring to conduct socially responsible research find themselves immersed in a literature on ‘collaborative methods’ that does not address some of the most pressing interpersonal challenges that fieldworkers experience in their community relationships. As recent controversies about the nature of collaboration indicate, collaborative models embed assumptions about reciprocity, negotiation, and the meaning and moral valence of categories like ‘research,’ ‘language,’ and ‘documentation,’ which do not translate equally well across all communities. There is thus a need for a method flexible enough to respond to the complexity and diversity of what goes on in particular cross-cultural researcher-community relationships. In this article, we encourage documentary linguists to consider the benefits of participant observation, a research method that is designed specifically to deal with the interpersonal nature of fieldwork in the human sciences. Because it ties knowledge production directly to the development of social relationships across difference, participant observation can help documentary linguists think fruitfully about the social approaches they take in their fieldwork, whether these ultimately come to involve formal collaboration or some other form of reciprocity.
- Endangered Language Research and the Moral Depravity of Ethics Protocols - June 1, 2016
- Case Study: An Evaluation of Information and Communication Technology Use in Upriver Halq’eméylem Language Programs - June 1, 2016
Abstract: Indigenous communities are using information and communications technology (ICT) to document languages and to support language maintenance and revitalization activities. Both critical funding and effort goes into the development, deployment, and maintenance of ICT; however, the effectiveness of ICT is not always clearly understood. This case study examines how ICT has been incorporated into Upriver Halq’eméylem language programs. Participants indicated that ICT is being used successfully as a supplementary tool in coordination with specific learning strategies and activities such as story-telling, games, and looking up a word or concept. However, they indicated that ICT is not being used outside of those specific learning activities. The study indicates that ICT can be a valuable tool in the effort to revitalize a language; however, the type of ICT and how it is integrated into the program and community need to be carefully planned out. A list of key findings is provided.
- Testing mutual intelligibility between closely related languages in an oral society - June 1, 2016
Abstract: This paper describes a new methodology for testing intelligibility across closely related languages and dialects in a traditional oral society in Vanuatu. There are many reasons why it could be useful to establish how well speakers of related varieties can understand one another: such knowledge is relevant to language planning and policy making, and it can shed light on the dynamics of language contact. However, conventional approaches to intelligibility testing, such as ‘recorded text testing’ (Hickerton et al. 1952; Pierce 1952; Voegelin & Harris 1951), are time consuming to score, and difficult to implement consistently. In Europe, fast and efficient intelligibility testing has been successfully carried out across closely related varieties (cf. Vanhove 2014; Gooskens forthcoming; Schüppert & Gooskens 2011a, 2011b, inter alia). However, these methods assume that test subjects are literate and computer-savvy. The methodology discussed in the present paper adapts European methods to conventional ‘fieldwork’ conditions. In Vanuatu we piloted a picture task and a translation task. Although some words had to be removed from the final analysis, the experiment was successful overall and we anticipate that this method can be fruitfully applied in other oral language communities.
- Worlds of knowledge in Central Bhutan: Documentation of ’Olekha - March 1, 2016
Abstract: A re-emergence in language documentation has brought with it a recent recognition of the potential contributions which collaboration with other disciplines has to offer linguistics. For example, ten chapters of the recently published Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Fieldwork (Thieberger 2012) were explicitly devoted to cross-discipline collaboration. Among the topics covered were ethnomathematics, geography, astronomy, biology, and ethnobotany. Linguists who work in ethnobiology can make important observations about our interactions with the natural world, as has been persuasively argued by Si (2011). In a separate publication, Si (2013) shows that the Solega people of southern India possess an unusually rich knowledge of honeybees and their practices, despite not being beekeepers. Of course, the importance of these sorts of studies has been noted outside of linguistics for some time. The current study has grown from discussions with a biologist for a collaborative project.
- Language Acquisition and Language Revitalization - March 1, 2016
Abstract: Intergenerational transmission, the ultimate goal of language revitalization efforts, can only be achieved by (re)establishing the conditions under which an imperiled language can be acquired by the community’s children. This paper presents a tutorial survey of several key points relating to language acquisition and maintenance in children, focusing on four matters that are of direct relevance to work on language revitalization.
- A discourse-based approach to the language documentation of local ecological knowledge - March 1, 2016
Abstract: This paper proposes a discourse-based approach to the language documentation of local ecological knowledge (LEK). The knowledge, skills, beliefs, cultural worldviews, and ideologies that shape the way a community interacts with its environment can be examined through the discourse in which LEK emerges. ‘Discourse-based’ refers to two components: (1) the discovery and collection of LEK and its contexts through methods informed by the ethnography of communication, and (2) the analysis of speech that encodes LEK in the framework of Interactional Sociolinguistics. This discourse-based approach not only addresses the general need to accumulate more instances of speech (about LEK, or otherwise) in a documentary corpus, but also provides an analysis of the communicative event, one that sheds light on the dynamic nature of the content of that speech in the particular sociocultural context of that speech community, embedded in discursive moments. Fundamental to this approach is the need for collaboration across disciplines. This paper explores the links that can be made among the fields of language documentation, ethnobiology, and sociolinguistics. Taropwe ie e aweenenei ia usun iaash sipwé weewetei iaan arames kile are aweewen mé aitiitan masawan leeset, fanéú, mé fáán lááng—ie arames re kai úró ‘local ecological knowledge (LEK)’—ngé iaash weewetei mi alóngólóng óón iaan arames apworaus, are ‘discourse.’ Llan eeu mé eeu kinikinin shóón sóópw kewe, iaar túmwúnú meet masawan leeset, óón fanéú, are fáán lááng mi kan alóngólóng óón iaar kile, iaar féfféér, iaar lúúk, iaar weewe, o pwal iaar awennam, iwe ngé simi toonganei weewetei fishi iaan shóón sóópw kewe kile mé féfféér kare saa longeetei fishi are aúsaleng fishi nganei iaar kewe apworaus. Ei sokkon aweewe e alóngólóng óón ruwou kinikin: (1) eeu kinikin ewe re kai úró ‘the ethnography of communication’ (weewen, sipwé longeetei fishi meet mi ffis lúpwan arames raa kan kakkapas are apworaus fangan), ei mi ossen lómwót nganei iaash kaié nganei peekin LEK; o pwal (2) eeu kinikin ewe re kai úró ‘Interactional Sociolinguistcs’ (weewen, eeu sokkon aweewe e alóngolóng óón iaash sipwé longeetei fishi ttishikin me iáián kapas llan iaan arames kewe apworaus, ei mi ossen lómwót nganei peekin LEK). Ekkei sokkon kaié aa kan alapaala iaash weewetei iaan arames apworaus (usun LEK pwal ekkewe apworaus mé likin LEK) o aa kan pwal alúkkapaala iaash aweewe unusalapen masowan iaan arames apworaus. Emi aushea iaash sipwé angaang fangan reen iaash sipwé toonganei weewetei ekké sokkon apworaus. Ei taropwe e aweewenei lekóshun ekkei kinikinikin peekin kai\'e: language documentation, ethnobiology, mé sociolinguistics.
- Fieldwork Game Play: Masterminding Evidentiality in Desano - March 1, 2016
Abstract: In this paper, we propose a methodology for collecting naturally occurring data on evidentials and epistemic modals. We use Desano (Eastern Tukanoan) as a case study. This language has a complex evidential system with six evidential forms. The methodology in question consists of having Desano speakers to play a logic game, Mastermind. In this game one player (the codemaker) places colored pegs behind a screen and the other player (the codebreaker) tries to guess the code, receiving partial feedback from the codemaker through clues after each intermediate guess. In order to offset the unnaturalness of the codemaker’s exclusive knowledge of the actual code, we adapt the task to have two codebreakers playing the game jointly and discussing what they know, what the code could/must be, etc. We found that there are several benefits to this method. It provides naturalistic dialogue between multiple speakers, rather than just monologue; utterances naturally vary as to whether speakers in the scenario have access to and interest in what kind of information source the speaker has or simply the conclusion they draw from this information; finally, an important point is that speakers find the task enjoyable. We hope that this study can add the body of literature on methods for collecting naturalistic speech for language documentation and description.
- Review of Am Faclair Beag online Gaelic-English Dictionary - March 1, 2016
- Chirila: Contemporary and Historical Resources for the Indigenous Languages of Australia - March 1, 2016
Abstract: Here I present the background to, and a description of, a newly developed database of historical and contemporary lexical data for Australian languages (Chirila), concentrating on the Pama-Nyungan family (the largest family in the country). While the database was initially developed in order to facilitate research on cognate words and reconstructions, it has had many uses beyond its original purpose, in synchronic theoretical linguistics, language documentation, and language reclamation. Creating a multi-audience database of this type has been challenging, however. Some of the challenges stemmed from success: as the size of the database grew, the original data structure became unwieldy. Other challenges grew from the difficulties in anticipating future needs, in keeping track of materials, and in coping with diverse input formats for so many highly endangered languages. In this paper I document the structure of the database, provide an overview of its uses (both in diachronic and synchronic research), and discuss some of the issues that have arisen during the project and choices that needed to be made as the database was created, compiled, curated, and shared. I address here the major problems that arise with linguistic data, particularly databases created for diverse audiences, from diverse data, with little infrastructure support.
- Getting in Touch: Language and Digital Inclusion in Australian Indigenous Communities - December 1, 2015
Abstract: Indigenous people in remote Australia face many dilemmas in relation to the status and vitality of their languages and communication ecologies. Cultural leaders want to maintain endangered heritage languages, yet this concern is balanced against an awareness that English competency is a necessary life skill. Remote Indigenous groups must also negotiate the effect of globalized media on language and cultural practices. While public policy seeks to bridge the digital divide in remote Australia, little attention has been paid to the dominance of English in the new digital environment and the potential impact that increased English language activities may have on endangered Indigenous languages. In this paper we discuss the Getting in Touch project, a joint initiative between linguists, Australian Indigenous language speakers, and software developers. Using a participatory, collaborative process, the project aims to develop ideas for digital resources that privilege Indigenous languages and knowledge systems. We argue that taking Indigenous languages into account in app design may help enhance digital literacies in remote Indigenous communities and promote digital inclusion.
- Southern Ute Grassroots Language Revitalization - December 1, 2015
Abstract: Southern Ute is a severely endangered Uto-Aztecan language spoken in southwestern Colorado by forty speakers out of a tribe of around 1,400. In 2011, a small group of adult tribal members with a strong desire to learn Ute as a second language began a collaborative, community-based, grassroots language revitalization and repatriation project on the Southern Ute reservation. This case study provides insight into language endangerment and revitalization, language ideologies, linguistic identity, revitalization pedagogy, and language as power. During this project the group encountered challenges typical of endangered language revitalization such as lack of teaching material, the contradictory role of writing in gaining fluency in an endangered language, the transition of a speaker to a teacher, and differing views of effective language learning methods. A total of eighty-nine community members ranging in age from two to eighty-seven years participated in this project. The diversity of students created a pedagogical situation in which the range of objectives, learning styles, and interest levels required adaptation and flexibility. We discuss possible solutions to these challenges. We also provide insight into the tenacity of heritage language learners who continue to fight for linguistic self-determination and justice, even when faced with opposition from their tribal government and community.
- Language Research and Revitalization Through a Community-University Partnership: The Mi’gmaq Research Partnership - December 1, 2015
Abstract: This paper discusses a collaboration between a university linguistics department and an Indigenous community, with the joint aim to increase the vitality of, and knowledge about, Mi’gmaq (Eastern Algonquian). It describes the history of the language in the community and how the partnership was initially formed. It discusses several joint initiatives: the development of digital language-learning resources, a class curriculum, and the hosting of an intergenerational open language workshop in the community. The authors share the models of work and lessons that have influenced them as this partnership has grown.
- Review of Endangered languages and new technologies - December 1, 2015
- Assessing the Linguistic Vitality of Miqie: An Endangered Ngwi (Loloish) Language of Yunnan, China - September 1, 2015
Abstract: Language shift is the process by which a speech community in a contact situation gradually abandons one language in favor of another. Because the causal factors of language shift are largely social (Fishman 1991), languages, groups, and communities with diverse social situations can be expected to exhibit varying levels of language shift. This paper reports on the linguistic vitality of Miqie [ISO 639-3:yiq], an endangered Central Ngwi/Yi language of Yunnan, China, and identifies the social factors contributing to language shift. Findings from participant interviews in 11 village survey points show there are varying degrees of language endangerment, with intermarriage and access to a major road as primary indicators of shift. This paper evaluates different tools for assessing linguistic vitality and uses the Language Endangerment Index (Lee & Van Way in press) to assess Miqie language endangerment at the village level. Language shift information is essential in the description and documentation of a language, especially because the contexts in which the language is spoken may disappear faster than the language itself.
- A guide to the Ikaan language and culture documentation - September 1, 2015
Abstract: Language documentation collections contain valuable and unique resources on the languages and cultures of the people represented in the collection. To allow users to understand and use one particular collection, this article provides a guide to the language documentation project “Farming, food and yam: language and cultural practices among Ikaan speakers,” deposited in the Endangered Languages Archive. It gives a bird’s eye view of the collection, showing the project background, the conventions and workflows, and the structure and content of the resources. In addition, it provides a glimpse behind the scene, outlining motivations, observations, thoughts on the collection, and future plans. This article thus contextualizes the collection by placing it in its wider research and community context.
- Final Records of the Sambe Language of Central Nigeria: Phonology, noun morphology, and wordlist - September 1, 2015
Abstract: This paper presents all the available data on the Sambe language [xab], formerly spoken in a remote area of Central Nigeria. Two field trips were made, in 2001 and 2005, and a substantial wordlist was collected. By 2005, the two remaining informants were very old and it is presumed Sambe is no longer spoken. The speakers still retain their ethnic identity but today speak a dialect of Ninzo. Sambe is part of the little-known Alumic group of languages and its closest relative is Hasha. Alumic in turn is one subgroup of Plateau, itself a branch of Benue-Congo and thus part of Niger-Congo. Sambe has an extremely rich phonological inventory. Fossil prefixes show that it had a system of nominal affixing until recently, but this had become unproductive by the time the language was recorded.
- Review of Repertoires and Choices in African Languages - September 1, 2015
- Review of The Oxford handbook of linguistic fieldwork - June 1, 2015
- Review of the Marshallese-English Online Dictionary - June 1, 2015
- Tools for Analyzing Verbal Art in the Field - June 1, 2015
Abstract: Song is a universal human phenomenon that can shed much light on the nature of language. Despite this, field linguists are not always equipped with the knowledge and skills to analyze song texts and draw out their significances to other areas of language. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for a language community to ask linguists working in the field to record and document their songs. Barwick (2012) identifies a number of reasons why linguists should work on songs and identifies iTunes as a local repository for recordings of songs. This paper expands on these reasons and describes how iTunes software can be used for comparing, retrieving and managing recordings of songs. This not only assists analysis of song structure and text, but is also a useful means of providing the community with recordings, even in the absence of a local repository. The paper draws on our use of iTunes during fieldwork on central Australian Aboriginal songs. Our aim is to share the methodology and workflow we use and to encourage linguists to work on this universal, yet often neglected, aspect of language that is often highly valued within the language community.
- State-of-the-Art in the Development of the Lokono Language - June 1, 2015
Abstract: Lokono is a critically endangered Northern Arawakan language spoken in the peri-coastal areas of the Guianas (Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana). Today, in every Lokono village there remains only a small number of elderly native speakers. However, in spite of the ongoing language loss, across the three Guianas as well as in the Netherlands, where a number of expatriate Lokono live, language awareness is increasing and measures are being taken to develop the language. This paper employs the UNESCO’s language vitality framework to assess the Lokono situation. I give particular attention to the state-of-the-art in language development activities, including language documentation. The aim of this paper is to provide the readers with an updated picture of the Lokono sociolinguistic context in order to facilitate future work between the Lokono and the academic community.
- Designing a Dictionary for an Endangered Language Community: Lexicographical Deliberations, Language Ideological Clarifications - June 1, 2015
Abstract: Dictionaries of endangered languages represent especially important products of language documentation, in part because they are usually the most familiar and useful genre of linguistic representation to endangered language community members. This familiarity, however, can become problematic when it is accompanied by language ideologies that equate dictionaries with word lists (‘words for things’), prescriptive linguistics, and researchers’ neoliberal assumptions regarding the circulation of knowledge. Recent and ongoing research in the Village of Tewa (N. Arizona, Kiowa-Tanoan language family) designed to produce a practical dictionary in support of the community’s language renewal efforts provides some examples of the need to contextualize the project within the community and to understand the pervasive role of language ideologies when working collaboratively. This research project aims to promote and fortify lexical documentation so that the practical dictionary is an adequate guide for future community members, while still conforming to cultural protocols about lexical representation and circulation, both within and outside the language community.
- ‘Lone Wolves’ and Collaboration: A Reply to Crippen & Robinson (2013) - March 1, 2015
Abstract: In this reply to Crippen & Robinson’s (2013) contribution to Language Documentation & Conservation, we discuss recent perspectives on ‘collaborative’ linguistics and the many roles that linguists play in language communities. We question Crippen & Robinson’s characterization of the state of the field and their conclusions regarding the utility of collaborative fieldwork. We argue that their characterization of collaborative fieldwork is unrealistic and their complaints are based on a caricature of what linguists actually do when they work together with communities. We also question their emphasis on the ‘outsider’ linguist going into a community, given the increasing number of indigenous scholars working on their own languages and partnering with ‘outsider’ academics. We outline ways in which collaborative work does not compromise theoretical scholarship. Both collaborative and so-called ‘lone wolf’ approaches bring advantages and disadvantages to the linguist, but lone wolf linguistics can have considerable disadvantages to communities who are already excluded from research. Documentary linguists, as representatives of their profession, should make use of the most effective techniques they can, given that in many cases, that linguist’s work may well be the only lasting record of the language.
- Documentary Linguistics and Computational Linguistics: A response to Brooks - March 1, 2015
- Collaboration: A Reply to Bowern & Warner's Reply - March 1, 2015
- Collaborative Documentation and Revitalization of Cherokee Tone - March 1, 2015
Abstract: Cherokee, the sole member of the southern branch of Iroquoian languages, is a severely endangered language. Unlike other members of the Iroquoian family, Cherokee has lexical tone. Community members are concerned about the potential loss of their language, and both speakers and teachers comment on the difficulty that language learners have with tone. This paper provides a brief overview of Cherokee tone and describes the techniques, activities, and results from a collaborative project aimed at building greater linguistic capacity within the Cherokee community. Team members from Cherokee Nation, the University of Kansas, and the University of Oklahoma led a series of workshops designed to train speakers, teachers, and advanced language learners to recognize, describe, and teach tone and how to use this information to document Cherokee. Following a participatory approach to endangered language revitalization and training native speakers and second language users in techniques of linguistic documentation adds to the knowledge-base of the community and allows for the documentation process to proceed from a Cherokee perspective rather than a purely academic/linguistic one. This capacity-building aspect of the project could serve as a model for future collaborations between linguists, teachers, and speakers in other communities with endangered languages.
- May Sasabihin ang Kabataan ‘The Youth Have Something to Say’: Youth perspectives on language shift and linguistic identity - March 1, 2015
Abstract: This position paper brings youth perspectives to the forefront of academic discourse about language shift and linguistic identity, framed in the larger intersecting conversations about language endangerment, maintenance and revitalization, the breakdown and rebuilding of intergenerational transmission, and the changing late modern landscapes in which youth linguistic identities emerge. At the core of this paper is the question, “What can be done about language shift?” My contribution to the answers is a call for further integration of youth perspectives into these academic discourses, most especially (but not exclusively) perspectives written by young scholars who are speaker-members of communities in which language shift is occurring. Such integration allows us to gain nuanced understandings of youth perceptions about language shift in their communities, the effects on their linguistic identities, and their motivations for reclaiming (or letting go of) their ancestral/heritage languages. This is a work in which I overtly take professional and personal stances, drawing upon my own experiences as a member of a Filipino diaspora in which language shift is currently taking place. [The Baybayin font above is © Norman de los Santos. To download it for personal, non-commercial use, please visit his site.] Itong kasulatang ito ay nagbibigay diin sa perspektibo ng kabataan dito sa pagtalakay ng pang-akademya tungkol sa paglilipat ng wika sa isang henerasyon at sa susunod na henerasyon at tungkol sa pagkakakilanlan ng wika. Nilalagay ko itong kasulatang ito sa loob ng mga mas malalaking pagtalakay ng pang-akademya tungkol sa pagkawala ng wika sa buong daigdig, sa pagpapanatili at pagbabagong-sibol, sa pagkasira at muling pagtataguyod ng pagpapadala ng wika’t kultura sa isang henerasyon at sa susunod na henerasyon, at sa pagbabago ng kalagayan ng makabagong daigdig na doon lumalabas ang mga pagkakakilanlan ng wika ng mga kabataan. Nasa pinakapuno ng kasulatan ko ang tanong na, “Ano kaya ang puwedeng gawin tungkol sa paglilipat ng wika sa susunod na mga henerasyon?” Ang sagot ko ay isang anunsyo na dapat magkaroon ng mas maraming pagsasama-sama ng perspektibo ng mga kabataan sa pagtalakay ng pang-akademya, lalo na (subali’t hindi eksklusibo) ang mga perspektibong isinulat ng mga batang mag-aaral na sila ay kasapi ng sambayanan na ito ay may paglilipat ng wika, at itong mga mag-aaral na ito ay marunong magsalita ng wika ng sambayanan (o kaya naiintindihan nila ang wika). Sa pagkakasama-sama nito, magiging mas malalim ang pagka-unawa natin tungkol sa pang-unawa ng mga kabataan tungkol sa paglilipat ng wika sa mga sambayanan nila, tungkol sa kalalabsan ng mga pagkakakilanlan nila tungkol sa wika, at tungkol sa pagganyak nila kung bakit gusto nilang ibalik sa mabuting kalagayan (o kaya’y pawalain) ang mga minamana nilang wika. Ginagamit ko ang mga paninindigang propesyonal at pansarili sa kasulatang ito; ginagamit ko ang aking mga karanasan, dahil ako ay kasapi ng sambayanan ng Pinoy na wala sa Pilipinas, at nagbabago ang aming mga wika.
- On Training in Language Documentation and Capacity Building in Papua New Guinea: A Response to Bird et al. - March 1, 2015
Abstract: In a recent article, Bird et al. (2013) discuss a workshop held at the University of Goroka in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 2012. The workshop was intended to offer a new methodological framework for language documentation and capacity building that streamlines the documentation process and accelerates the global effort to document endangered languages through machine translation and automated glossing technology developed by computer scientists. As a volunteer staff member at the workshop, in this response to Bird et al. I suggest that it did not in the end provide us with a model that should be replicated in the future. I explain how its failure to uphold fundamental commitments from a documentary linguistic and humanistic perspective can help inform future workshops and large-scale documentary efforts in PNG. Instead of experimenting with technological shortcuts that aim to reduce the role of linguists in language documentation and that construct participants as sources of data, we should implement training workshops geared toward the interests and skills of local participants who are interested in documenting their languages, and focus on building meaningful partnerships with academic institutions in PNG.
- On Establishing Underlying Tonal Contrast - December 1, 2014
Abstract: Phonological field work is largely about establishing contrast in comparable environments. The notion of phonological contrast, however, can be confusing, particularly in its application to tone analysis. Does it mean phonemic contrast in the structuralist sense, or does it mean underlying contrast in the generative sense? Many linguists, in publications otherwise written from a generative perspective, support underlying tonal contrasts with minimal pairs and other data that are based on structuralist criteria. This paper critiques how tonal contrast is often supported in the literature and demonstrates that many supposed minimal pairs are invalid from a generative perspective. It further demonstrates that because many morphemes in tone languages consist solely of floating tones, the potential for these cannot be ignored when establishing comparable phonological environments. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- How To Study a Tone Language - December 1, 2014
Abstract: In response to requests I have often got as to how one approaches a tone language, I present a personal view of the three stages involved, starting from scratch and arriving at an analysis: Stage I: Determining the tonal contrasts and their approximate phonetic allotones. Stage II: Discovering any tonal alternations (“morphotonemics”). Stage III: establishing the tonal analysis itself. While most emphasis in the literature concerns this last stage, I show how the analysis crucially depends on the first two. A detailed illustration is presented from Oku, a Grassfields Bantu language spoken in Cameroon on which I personally worked in the field. The paper concludes with discussion of issues arising in other tone languages, illustrated by Corejuage (Tukanoan, Colombia), Peñoles Mixtec (Otomanguean, Mexico), Villa Alta Yatzachi Zapotec (Otomanguean, Mexico), Luganda (Bantu, Uganda), Hakha Lai (Tibeto-Burman, Myanmar and Northeast India), and Haya (Bantu, Tanzania). *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Review of For the sake of a song: Wangga songmen and their repositories - December 1, 2014
- The study of tone in languages with a quantity contrast - December 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper deals with the study of tone in languages that additionally have a phonological contrastive of quantity, such as vowel length or stress. In such complex word-prosodic systems, tone and the quantity contrast(s) can be fully independent of one another, or they may interact. Both of these configurations are illustrated in this paper, and the phonetic pressures underlying the development of interactions are laid out. The paper pays particular attention to the challenge of investigating complex word-prosodic systems. Central to the approach advocated here is the combination of qualitative fieldwork data collection methods with instrumental analysis. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Ex-situ Documentation of Ethnobiology - December 1, 2014
Abstract: Migrant speakers of endangered languages living in urban centers in developed countries represent a valuable resource through which these languages may be conveniently documented. Here, we first present a general methodology by which linguists can compile a meaningful set of visual (and sometimes audio) stimuli with which to carry out a reasonably detailed ethnobiological elicitation session in an ‘ex-situ’ setting, such as an urban university. We then showcase some preliminary results of such an elicitation carried out on the Dumo, or Vanimo, language of north-western Papua New Guinea during a linguistic field methods course at the Australian National University. With the help of a region-specific set of visual stimuli obtained from various sources, it was possible to document many fascinating aspects of the fish, and other marine-biological, knowledge of Dumo speakers, along with detailed ethnographic notes on the cultural significance of marine creatures.
- The experimental state of mind in elicitation: illustrations from tonal fieldwork - December 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper illustrates how an “experimental state of mind”, i.e. principles of experimental design, can inform hypothesis generation and testing in structured fieldwork elicitation. The application of these principles is demonstrated with case studies in toneme discovery. Pike’s classic toneme discovery procedure is shown to be a special case of the application of experimental design. It is recast in two stages: (1) the inference of the hidden structure of tonemes based on unexplained variability in the pitch contour r emaining, even after other sources of influence on the pitch contour are accounted for, and (2) the confirmation of systematic effects of hypothesized tonal classes on the pitch contour in elicitations structured to control for confounding variables that could obscure the relati on between tonal classes and the pitch contour. Strategies for controlling the confounding variables, such as blocking and randomization, are discussed. The two stages are exemplified using data elicited from the early stages of toneme discovery in Kirikiri, a language of New Guinea. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Review of Developing Orthographies for Unwritten Languages - December 1, 2014
- On beginning the study of the tone system of a Dene (Athabaskan) language: Looking back - December 1, 2014
Abstract: In this paper I review the methodology that I used in beginning my early fieldwork on a tonal Athabaskan language, including preparation through reading and listening, working with speakers, organizing data, and describing and analyzing the data, stressing how these are not steps or stages, but intersect and interact with each other. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Studying tones in North East India: Tai, Singpho and Tangsa - December 1, 2014
Abstract: Drawing on nearly 20 years of study of a variety of languages in North East India, from the Tai and Tibeto-Burman families, this paper examines the issues involved in studying those languages, building on three well established principles: (a) tones are categories within a language, and the recognition of those categories is the key step in describing the tonal system; (b) in at least some languages, tones are a bundle of features, of which (relative) pitch is only one; and (c) tones may carry different levels of functional load in different languages. I will discuss the use of historical and comparative data to assist with tonal analysis, while raising the possibility that the tonal categories of individual words may vary from one language variety to the next. Different approaches to marking tones, for linguistic transcriptions, presentation of acoustic data (F0) and in practical orthographies are discussed, along with the effect of intonation and grammatical factors such as nominalisation on the realisation of tones. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Studying emergent tone-systems in Nepal: Pitch, phonation and word-tone in Tamang - December 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper focuses on the particular kinds of difficulties which arise in the study of an emergent tone-system, exemplified by Tamang in Nepal, where pitch, phonation and other laryngeal features combine in the definition of a tone. As a consequence, conducting a well-ordered analysis in stages first of phonetic transcription, then variation in context, then interpretation is not possible. Rather we have to discover the contrasting categories first, and study their phonetic realization next, or do both at the same time. This also leads to questioning the validity of the traditional distinction of features into “distinctive” and “redundant” and proposing instead an analysis of an abstract “tone” as a bundle of cues. We will only sketch the second characteristic of the Tamang tone system, the extension of tone over the phonological word. The contributions of instrumental studies and of a comparative-historical perspective are discussed. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Finding a way into a family of tone languages: The story and methods of the Chatino Language Documentation Project - December 1, 2014
Abstract: We give a narrative description of our ten-year path into the elaborate tonal systems of the Chatino languages (Otomanguean; Oaxaca, Mexico), and of some of the methods we have used and recommend, illustrated with specific examples. The work, ongoing at the time of writing, began when one of us (Cruz), a native speaker of San Juan Quiahije Chatino, entered the University of Texas at Austin as a Ph.D. student and formed, together with the other of us (Woodbury), a professor there, the Chatino Language Documentation Project, ultimately incorporating five other Ph.D. students and two other senior researchers. We argue for the importance of an interplay among speaker and non-speaker perspectives over the long course of work; a mix of introspection, hypothesis-testing, natural speech recording, transcription, translation, grammatical analysis, and dictionary-making as research methods and activities; an emphasis on community training as an active research context; the simultaneous study of many varieties within a close-knit language family to leverage progress; and the use of historical-comparative methods to get to know tonal systems and the roles they play at a deeper level. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- The Study of tone and related phenomena in an Amazonian tone language: Gavião of Rondônia - December 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper describes the methods used to study the tone and some related phenomena of the language of the Gavião of Rondônia, Brazil, which is part of the Mondé branch of the Tupi family. Whistling of words by indigenous informants was discovered to be a very effective method for obtaining phonetic accuracy in tone and length. Methods were devised to map out the system of tone and length. They were subsequently used in the study of other Amazonian languages, including Karitiana, Munduruku, Zoró, and Surui of Rondônia, with success. Some notes on tone considerations in orthography are offered, as well as notes on procedures that proved useful in the diachronic study of tone in the Mondé languages. Methods for the study of natural whistled speech used for distance communication are also described, with special attention to the whistled speech of the Gavião, including its use, its efficiency, and the whistling techniques used. The relation between some aspects of Gavião instrumental music and the suprasegmental aspects of the language are also discussed and the methods used to study this are described. Audio and video clips illustrate the phenomena being discussed. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Studying Tonal Complexity, with a special reference to Mande languages - December 1, 2014
Abstract: Linguists tend to believe that total complexity of human languages is invariable. In order to test this hypothesis empirically, we need to calculate the complexity in different domains of language structure: phonology, morphology, syntax, etc. In this paper I provide some guidelines for documenting tonal systems and evaluating their complexity. I then apply my methodology to the Mande languages of West Africa and test a tonal equi-complexity hypothesis which says that languages with more tonal contrasts tend to have fewer tonal rules and vice versa. The data presented do not support such a concept of tonal equi-complexity in the domain of phonology, but there is a strong positive correlation between the number of tonal contrasts and the number of tonal morphemes. My explanation is that tonal contrasts and tonal morphemes tend to appear as a result of segmental loss, so the two phenomena are likely to co-occur. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Strategies for analyzing tone languages - December 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper outlines a method of auditory and acoustic analysis for determining the tonemes of a language starting from scratch, drawing on the author’s experience of recording and analyzing tone languages of north-east India. The methodology is applied to a preliminary analysis of tone in the Thang dialect of Khiamniungan, a virtually undocumented language of extreme eastern Nagaland and adjacent areas of the Sagaing Division Myanmar (Burma). Following a discussion of strategies for ensuring that data appropriate for tonal analysis will be recorded, the practical demonstration begins with a description of how tone categories can be established according to their syllable type in the preliminary auditory analysis. The paper then uses this data to describe a method of acoustic analysis that ultimately permits the representation of pitch shapes as a function of absolute mean duration. The analysis of grammatical tones, floating tones and tone sandhi are exemplified with Mongsen Ao data, and a description of a perception test demonstrates how this can be used to corroborate the auditory and acoustic analysis of a tone system. *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Computational support for early elicitation and classification of tone - December 1, 2014
Abstract: Investigating a tone language involves careful transcription of tone on words and phrases. This is challenging when the phonological categories – the tones or melodies – have not been identified. Effects such as coarticulation, sandhi, and phrase-level prosody appear as obstacles to early elicitation and classification of tone. This article presents open source software that can assist with solving this problem. Users listen to words and phrases of interest, before grouping them into clusters having the same tonal properties. In this manner, it is possible to quickly annotate words of interest in extended recordings, and compare items that may be widely separated in the source audio to obtain consistent labelling. Users have reported that it is possible to train one’s ear to pick up on the linguistically salient distinctions. The approach is illustrated with data from Eastern Chatino (Mexico) and Alekano (Papua New Guinea). *This paper is in the series How to Study a Tone Language, edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman
- Notes from the Field: Baskeet Phonological Sketch and Digital Wordlist - December 1, 2014
- Reclaiming the Kaurna language: a long and lasting collaboration in an urban setting - October 1, 2014
Abstract: A long-running collaboration between Kaurna people and linguists in South Australiabegan in 1989 with a songbook. Following annual community workshops and theestablishment of teaching programs, the author embarked on a PhD to research historicalsources and an emerging modern language based on these sources. In response tonumerous requests for names, translations and information, together with Kaurna EldersLewis O’Brien and Alitya Rigney, the author and others formed Kaurna Warra Pintyandi(KWP) in 2002. It is a monthly forum where researchers, and others interested in Kaurnalanguage, can meet with Kaurna people to discuss their concerns. KWP, based at theUniversity of Adelaide, is not incorporated and attendance of meetings is voluntary. Thecommittee has gained a measure of credibility and respect from the Kaurna community,government departments and the public and has recently signed a Memorandum ofUnderstanding with the University of Adelaide. However, KWP and the author sit,uneasily at times, at the intersection between the University and the community. Thispaper explores the nature of collaboration between Kaurna people and researchersthrough KWP in the context of reliance on historical documentation, much of which isopen to interpretation. Linguistics provides some of the skills needed for interpretation ofsource materials. This is complemented by knowledge held by Kaurna people that isknown through oral history, spirituality and intuition.*This paper is in the series The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia, edited by John Henderson.
- Developing a Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages - October 1, 2014
Abstract: The fluctuating fortunes of Northern Territory bilingual education programs in Australian languages and English have put at risk thousands of books developed for these programs in remote schools. In an effort to preserve such a rich cultural and linguistic heritage, the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages project is establishing an open access, online repository comprising digital versions of these materials. Using web technologies to store and access the resources makes them accessible to the communities of origin, the wider academic community, and the general public. The process of creating, populating, and implementing such an archive has posed many interesting technical, cultural and linguistic challenges, some of which are explored in this paper Description: National Foreign Language Resource Center
- When is a linguist not a linguist: the multifarious activities and expectations for a linguist in an Australian language centre - October 1, 2014
Abstract: The role of linguists employed in Aboriginal community language centres requires three considerations to be addressed by the language centres themselves, by the linguists and by the organisations that prepare them: what is required of the linguist by language centres; to what extent does the linguist's own skills, interests and ideology match what is required by their position; and how the linguist’s capabilities can best be matched to the requirements of the language centre. These three considerations are complex, in part specific to each language centre, and can involve skills that are not immediately oriented to, or transferable from, academic knowledge and skills. The sensitive and urgent nature of language revitalisation means that high expectations are often placed on the linguist by the language centre, which can lead to disappointment for all parties in various ways, and could even compromise the effectiveness of the language revitalisation. This paper attempts to critically address these three dimensions in relation to a Western Australian language centre, focussing on a case study of a community-based languages exhibition that took place in 2008. It describes the context of the language centre and then considers the role of the linguist operating within a sociolinguistically-oriented theoretical and methodological framework to revitalize languages, identifying different conceptualisations of the role. The case study explores the range of requirements made of the linguist during the languages exhibition project, and presents some reflections on the role in that context. *This paper is in the series The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia, edited by John Henderson.
- Linguists and language rebuilding: recent experience in two New South Wales languages - October 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper primarily considers the role of linguists in the process of language rebuilding, or language revival, that is, the process of working with a language that is no longer spoken so that it is spoken again. The paper is largely based on experience with Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay, two closely-related languages from northern New South Wales in Australia, but also on experience with other languages. *This paper is in the series The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia, edited by John Henderson.
- Between duty statement and reality – The “Linguist/Coordinator” at an Australian Indigenous language centre - October 1, 2014
Abstract: The size of Australian Indigenous language centres varies from small programs with a single employment position up to large organisations which may involve several linguists, a manager and a range of support staff. This article is based on the linguist’s work at an organisation at the smaller end of the scale – Mirima Dawang Woorlabgerring Language and Culture Centre (MDWg), which operates out of Kununurra in the remote East Kimberley Region of Western Australia. Following a brief introduction to the context and history of language work at MDWg, the author sheds light on typical community expectations, which cover an array of different language-related and nonlinguistic tasks. In a scenario where the linguist and coordinator roles are assigned to a single person it becomes clear that the range of duties can be overwhelmingly diverse and go beyond anything a linguist is exposed to during his/her academic studies. The article proceeds by identifying a range of challenges for a linguist/coordinator, addressing issues such as efficiency, balance, burnout and career planning. For each challenge, possible solutions are offered, with the vision of turning challenge into opportunity. The article concludes with a set of recommendations directed at various stakeholders in the work of Indigenous language centres. *This paper is in the series The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia, edited by John Henderson.
- Review of Arbil: Free Tool for Creating, Editing, and Searching Metadata - September 1, 2014
- Collaboration in the Context of Teaching, Scholarship, and Language Revitalization: Experience from the Chatino Language Documentation Project - September 1, 2014
Abstract: We describe our own experience of linguist-community collaboration over the last ten years in our Chatino Language Documentation Project, focused on the Chatino languages (Otomanguean; Oaxaca, Mexico). We relate episodes in the emergence and evolution of the collaboration between ourselves, and of the collaboration among ourselves and the Chatino communities with which we have worked. Our experience has several special features. First, our own collaboration began as native Chatino-speaking Ph.D. student and her teacher in a program focused on training speakers of Latin American indigenous languages in linguistics and anthropology, and developed into a larger collaboration among students and faculty where the student had a major leadership role. Second, our approach was documentary-descriptive and comparative, but it was also socially engaged or ‘activist,’, in that we sought to promote interest, awareness, and respect for the Chatino languages, to teach and support Chatino literacy, and to preserve and offer access to spoken Chatino, especially traditional verbal art. Our approach had synergies with local interests in writing and in honoring traditional speech ways, but it also led to conflicts over our roles as social actors, and the traditionally activist roles of indigenous teachers. Third, we experienced plasticity in the collaborative roles we played. Between ourselves, we were student and teacher, but also initiator and follower as we became engaged in revitalization. At the same time, the native speaker linguist found herself occupying a range of positions along a continuum from “insider” to “outsider” respect to her own community. *This paper is in the series Language Documentation in the Americas edited by Keren Rice and Bruna Franchetto
- Review of Mukurtu Content Management System - September 1, 2014
- The Pleasures and Pitfalls of a ‘Participatory’ Documentation Project: An Experience in Northwestern Amazonia - September 1, 2014
Abstract: This article adds a voice from Amazonia to the reflective discussion on documentation projects designed within a ‘participatory’ or ‘collaborative’ paradigm of language research. It offers a critical assessment of one such documentation project carried out from 2007-2011 with the Kotiria and Wa’ikhana (East Tukano) language communities, who live in the remote Vaupés basin of the northwest Amazon. It examines aspects of the four-year project that most approximated the participative ideals that inspired it, including community input throughout all phases of the project, a ‘team-based’ approach grounded in local partnerships, and efforts to establish a more equitable division of power and responsibility, as well as greater self-determination in the organization of documentation activities. It also points out some of the difficulties encountered along the way and raises questions related to expectations, unforeseen consequences, and sustainability, questions that still remain to be answered. *This paper is in the series Language Documentation in the Americas edited by Keren Rice and Bruna Franchetto
- Language Documentation in the Americas - September 1, 2014
Abstract: In the last decades, the documentation of endangered languages has advanced greatly in the Americas. In this paper we survey the role that international funding programs have played in advancing documentation in this part of the world, with a particular focus on the growth of documentation in Brazil, and we examine some of the major opportunities and challenges involved in documentation in the Americas, focusing on participatory research models. *This paper is in the series Language Documentation in the Americas edited by Keren Rice and Bruna Franchetto
- Training in the Community-Collaborative Context: A Case Study - September 1, 2014
Abstract: Emerging community-based methodologies call for collaboration with speech community members. Although motivated, community members may lack the tools or training to contribute actively. In response, many linguists deliver training workshops in documentation or preservation, while others train community members to record data. Although workshops address immediate needs, they are limited to what the individual linguist can teach. Speech community linguists may articulate goals beyond what one researcher can undertake. This creates a need for more advanced training than can be provided in the field. This paper uses a case study example to illustrate how the need for advanced training can be met through university-based workshops. It describes the process, challenges, and outcomes of bringing a nine-member team of Kari’nja (Cariban) speakers from Konomerume, Suriname to Eugene, Oregon for the 2010 Northwest Indian Language Institute’s (NILI) annual Summer Institute and the Institute on Field Linguistics and Language Documentation (InField). Lessons learned are situated in the context of community-collaborative methodologies, and a central role for training is articulated. This paper demonstrates that collaboration need not be limited to academic and speech communities, but rather can extend to a greater population of individuals who share an interest in promoting linguistic diversity.
- Documenting and Researching Endangered Languages: The Pangloss Collection - June 1, 2014
Abstract: The Pangloss Collection is a language archive developed since 1994 at the Langues et Civilisations à Tradition Orale (LACITO) research group of the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). It contributes to the documentation and study of the world’s languages by providing free access to documents of connected, spontaneous speech, mostly in endangered or under-resourced languages, recorded in their cultural context and transcribed in consultation with native speakers. The Collection is an Open Archive containing media files (recordings), text annotations, and metadata; it currently contains over 1,400 recordings in 70 languages, including more than 400 transcribed and annotated documents. The annotations consist of transcription, free translation in English, French and/or other languages, and, in many cases, word or morpheme glosses; they are time-aligned with the recordings, usually at the utterance level. A web interface makes these annotations accessible online in an interlinear display format, in synchrony with the sound, using any standard browser. The structure of the XML documents makes them accessible to searching and indexing, always preserving the links to the recordings. Long-term preservation is guaranteed through a partnership with a digital archive. A guiding principle of the Pangloss Collection is that a close association between documentation and research is highly profitable to both. This article presents the collections currently available; it also aims to convey a sense of the range of possibilities they offer to the scientific and speaker communities and to the general public.
- The Sony NEX-VG30 video camera: A review for use in language documentation - June 1, 2014
- Review of Gabmap: Doing Dialect Analysis on the Web - June 1, 2014
- Using Mixed Media Tools for Eliciting Discourse in Indigenous Languages - June 1, 2014
Abstract: Prosody plays a vital role in communication, but is one of the most widely neglected topics in language documentation. This omission is doubly detrimental since intonation is unrecoverable from transcribed texts, the most prevalent data sources for many indigenous languages. One of the underlying reasons for the dearth of prosodic data is methodological. Modern technology has removed technical barriers to recording the appropriate data, but traditional methods of elicitation still inhibit accurate documentation of linguistic structures at or above the phrasal level. In addition, these methods do not facilitate the mobilization of linguistic documentation. In this paper, we present techniques that we have developed that address both these concerns: 1) eliciting prosodic data for theoretical analysis, and 2) producing linguistic materials that can be useful for educators and curriculum developers. Highlighting advantages and disadvantages, we compare traditional elicitation and text-gathering methods with two non-traditional methodologies using non-verbal stimuli. These two non-traditional methodologies are aimed at collecting: 1) spontaneous conversation (either unguided, or task-oriented), and 2) partly scripted conversation (aided by multimedia tools). The methodologies are illustrated with original fieldwork on focus and intonation in two related, endangered Interior Salish languages – Nlhe7kepmxcín (Thompson) and St’át’imcets (Lillooet).
- yaʕ̓tmín cqwəlqwilt nixw, uł nixw, ul nixw, I need to speak more, and more, and more: Okanagan-Colville (Interior Salish) Indigenous second-language learners share our filmed narratives - June 1, 2014
Abstract: way’, iskwíst, my name is, Símlaxw, and I am from Penticton BC, Canada. kn sqilxw. I am a Syilx (Okanagan, Interior Salish) adult language learner. My cohort and I are midway in our language transformation to become proficient speakers. Our names are Prasát, Símlaxw, C’rtups, Xwnámxwnam, Staqwálqs, and our Elder, Samtíc’a. We created an adult immersion house, deep in Syilx territory, and lived and studied together for five months. We combined intensive curricular study, cutting-edge second-language acquisition techniques, filmed assessments, and immersion with our Elder. We emerged transformed—we are n’ qwcin, clear speakers, speaking at an intermediate level. There has been very little written about assessment of Indigenous language teaching methods or Indigenous language speaking ability, and much less written about filmed learning and assessment. Three films were created in our language, nqilxwcn, and placed on YouTube. The films give primacy to our personal narratives, document and share our transformation, speaking abilities, grassroots language activism and learning methods. This paper describes the films, my cohort’s transformation, assesses our speaking ability, describes Paul Creek Language Association curriculum, and represents a contribution to Indigenous language teaching methods, assessment and nqilxwcn revitalization. iskwíst Símlaxw, kn tl snpintktn. kn sqilxw u kn scmipnwín nqilxcn. axá inq ymín iscmamáy. kwu kcilclkst kwu capsíws, i sqlxwskwskwístt Prasát, Símlaxw, C rtups, Xwnámxwnam, Staqwálqs, na i xaptt, Samtíca. kwu kwliwt l nqilxwcn i citxwtt cilkst i xyanxw u isckwúl ka ís i t syayáxa. i l syayáxatt, cak mi wikntp i scmamáyatt i kyankxó nqilxcn i sc a ács, kwu cnqilxcnm, kwu sckwakwúlm nqilxcn, u kwu x stwilx i scqwaqwáltt. xcxact i sckwultt, naxm ksxan i tl silítt i l kiláwna i snilítns kwu ctixwlm. apná kwu capsíws u kwu n qwcin. wtntím i syayáxatt l YouTube u i scxminktt cakw ksaysnwím i scsmamáytt, kyankxó i sckwulslx, u cakw ckin i sk ak úlm i nqlqílxcn i kscmamáyax, u cakw mi xlal a nqlqilxwcntt.
- Using the Livescribe Echo Smartpen for Language Documentation - June 1, 2014
- Review of The Last Speakers: The quest to save the world's most endangered languages - June 1, 2014
- Beyond the Ancestral Code: Towards a Model for Sociolinguistic Language Documentation - June 1, 2014
Abstract: Most language documentation efforts focus on capturing lexico-grammatical information on individual languages. Comparatively little effort has been devoted to considering a language’s sociolinguistic contexts. In parts of the world characterized by high degrees of multilingualism, questions surrounding the factors involved in language choice and the relationship between ‘communities’ and ‘languages’ are clearly of interest to documentary linguistics, and this paper considers these issues by reporting on the results of a workshop held on sociolinguistic documentation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over sixty participants from Africa and elsewhere discussed theoretical and methodological issues relating to the documentation of language in its social context. Relevant recommendations for projects wishing to broaden into the realm of sociolinguistic language documentation include: a greater emphasis on conversational data and the documentation of naturally occurring conversation; developing metadata conventions to allow for more nuanced descriptions of socio-cultural settings; encouraging teamwork and interdisciplinary collaboration in order to extend the scope of sociolinguistic documentation; collecting sociolinguistic data which can inform language planning and policy; and creating opportunities for training in sociolinguistic documentation. Consideration of sociolinguistic language documentation also raises significant questions regarding the ways in which Western language ideologies, which have been especially prominent in shaping documentary agendas, may be unduly influencing documentary practice in other parts of the world.
- Integrating Language Documentation, Language Preservation, and Linguistic Research: Working with the Kokamas from the Amazon - March 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper highlights the role of speech community members on a series of interconnected projects to document, study and maintain Kokama, a deeply endangered language from the Peruvian Amazon. The remaining fluent speakers of the language are mostly older than 60 years of age, are spread out across various small villages, and speak the language in very restricted situations. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, it demonstrates with concrete examples that outcomes of projects implemented in collaboration with speakers yield more broadly useful outcomes than those conducted by a linguist working alone. Second, it underscores the significance of documenting language interaction among different types of speakers in accordance with the view that language preservation is not only about promoting a linguistic code, but also includes documenting communicative practices. The projects reported here can contribute to the development of fieldwork methodologies to work with a range of speakers. The involvement of community members has been crucial for the design of culturally relevant strategies to assess fluency in Kokama, for the naturalness and variety within the collected data, and for the documentation of interactional patterns essential for revitalization initiatives. This paper supports the view that language documentation, language preservation, and linguistic research can be complementary endeavors.
- More than Words: Towards a Development-Based Approach to Language Revitalization - March 1, 2014
Abstract: Existing models for language revitalization focus almost exclusively on language learning and use. While recognizing the value of these models, we argue that their effective application is largely limited to situations in which languages have low numbers of speakers. For languages that are rapidly undergoing language shift, but which still maintain large vital communities of speakers, a model for revitalization is currently lacking. We offer the beginnings of such a model here, arguing that in these communities doing language revitalization must primarily mean addressing the causes of language shift, a task that we argue can be undertaken in collaborative efforts with social development organizations. The model contrasts strongly (though complementarily) with existing models in that it focuses on work in which explicitly language-focused activities are undertaken only as intentional support for social development projects. Where successful, we argue this approach achieves language revitalization goals in organic and sustainable ways that are much more difficult for language-focused programs to achieve. It therefore has the potential to stop and potentially reverse language shift in specific ways. We offer our experiences with Wuqu’ Kawoq|Maya Health Alliance, a healthcare NGO in Guatemala, which attempts to follow this model, as evidence for the model’s viability.
- Using Gesture to Teach Seneca in a Language Nest School - March 1, 2014
Abstract: Seneca elder Sandy Dowdy and her granddaughter Autumn Crouse direct a language nest school for children aged two to five years in a small longhouse-shaped building, Ganöhsesge:kha:’ Hë:nödeyë:sta’:, or the Faithkeepers School, on the Seneca Allegany Territory in upstate New York. They practice immersion teaching and use forms of gesturing to teach the children both conversational and spiritual functions of Seneca, capitalizing on the belief that the use of gesturing is an effective tool for teaching children, especially those in the toddler range. Gesturing is useful because language and gesture are positively linked, signing links concepts to verbal learning, gesture helps aid memory, and incorporating gesture while learning a language encourages active learning. Gesturing also helps children learn complex concepts, which is ideal for teaching Seneca since the children are learning the Ganö:nyök, literally, ‘let it be used for expressing thanks’ and otherwise known as the Thanksgiving Address, a daily recitation that expresses thankfulness for all of creation.
- Review of SayMore, a tool for Language Documentation Productivity - March 1, 2014
- Using TEI for an Endangered Language Lexical Resource: The Nxaʔamxcín Database-Dictionary Project - March 1, 2014
Abstract: This paper describes the evolution of a lexical resource project for Nxaamxcín, an endangered Salish language, from the project’s inception in the 1990s, based on legacy materials recorded in the 1960s and 1970s, to its current form as an online database that is transformable into various print and web-based formats for varying uses. We illustrate how we are using TEI P5 for data-encoding and archiving and show that TEI is a mature, reliable, flexible standard which is a valuable tool for lexical and morphological markup and for the production of lexical resources. Lexical resource creation, as is the case with language documentation and description more generally, benefits from portability and thus from conformance to standards (Bird and Simons 2003, Thieberger 2011). This paper therefore also discusses standards-harmonization, focusing on our attempt to achieve interoperability in format and terminology between our database and standards proposed for LMF, RELISH and GOLD. We show that, while it is possible to achieve interoperability, ultimately it is difficult to do so convincingly, thus raising questions about what conformance to standards means in practice.
- Languoid, Doculect, and Glossonym: Formalizing the Notion 'Language' - December 19, 2013
Abstract: It is perfectly reasonable for laypeople and non-linguistic scholars to use names for languages without reflecting on the proper definition of the objects referred to by these names. Simply using a name like English or Witotoan suffices as an informal communicative designation for a particular language or a language group. However, for the linguistics community, which is by definition occupied with the details of languages and language variation, it is somewhat bizarre that there does not exist a proper technical apparatus to talk about intricate differences in opinion about the precise sense of a name like English or Witotoan when used in academic discussion. We propose three interrelated concepts—LANGUOID, DOCULECT, and GLOSSONYM—which provide a principled basis for discussion of different points of view about key issues, such as whether two varieties should be associated with the same language, and allow for a precise description of what exactly is being claimed by the use of a given genealogical or areal group name. The framework they provide should be especially useful to researchers who work on underdescribed languages where basic issues of classification remain unresolved.
- A Sociolinguistic Assessment of the Roshani Speech Variety in Afghanistan - December 1, 2013
Abstract: This paper presents the results of a sociolinguistic assessment conducted in September 2007 in the Roshan area in Afghanistan, where the vernacular Roshani is spoken (ISO: sgh, for Shughni). The goal of the assessment was to determine whether the Roshani people will benefit from a language development project, opening the possibility for literature development and primary school education in the vernacular. The objectives were to assess whether the national language Dari (ISO: prs, for Persian) or the closely related speech variety Shughni would be adequate to be used in literature and primary school education. This was achieved by administering sociolinguistic questionnaires and village elder questionnaires, eliciting word lists, testing intelligibility of the Shughni speech variety, and observing and asking about bilingualism with Dari. In this way the domains of language use, attitude towards Roshani, Shughni and Dari, and bilingualism with Dari, and intelligibility of Shughni were determined. This paper aims to show that due to low bilingualism with Dari, Dari literature cannot serve the Roshani speech community adequately. Because of high intelligibility with Shughni and a neutral attitude, it will be recommendable that Shughni reading material will be tested in Roshan as soon as it is ready.
- Collaborative Development of Blackfoot Language Courses - December 1, 2013
Abstract: This paper presents the experience of developing a Blackfoot language course as a collaboration between a Blackfoot native speaker and a linguist. During the process, we encountered various challenges typical of indigenous language education in the United States. These include issues such as the lack of language teaching materials, the existence of multiple dialects and various writing systems, and the lack of teacher training opportunities. This paper describes our attempts at addressing these issues and devising strategies to meet these challenges.
- Training Communities, Training Graduate Students: The 2012 Oklahoma Breath of Life Workshop - December 1, 2013
Abstract: While grassroots organizations like the American Indian Language Development Institute have long shown the importance of training to indigenous language communities, an increasing emphasis on training in language documentation and revitalization is emerging in new funding initiatives, training institutes and consortia world-wide. In this current atmosphere the 2012 Oklahoma Breath of Life Workshop presents a case study in training in which the goals of training indigenous community members and graduate students can take place simultaneously. With the rising prominence of training models in language documentation and revitalization, and the practical dimension faced by limitations on resources like personnel and funding, the importance of satisfying multiple goals in a single training venue cannot be underestimated. Additionally, this project demonstrates how learning can take place outside of the typical, credit-bearing university class, offering flexibility to indigenous community members and filling a gap in training for graduate students that formal coursework does not provide. Four factors were essential: team selection process; mentoring; final projects by community member participants; and reflection by graduate student mentors. We outline in detail the elements of these four factors, as well as provide evidence of continued engagement in language work by participants through post-workshop activities.
- Review of Shure WH30XLR cardioid headset microphone and Countryman E6 omnidirectional earset microphone - December 1, 2013
- Reviving Siraya: A Case for Language Engineering - December 1, 2013
Abstract: Siraya is a language once spoken in Southwest Taiwan, which is being revived. Some Siraya data is inconsistent, requiring strategies as to how it will be implemented. I discuss some of these strategies in support of the revival attempt. The following issues deserve attention: 1. Siraya phonology includes a schwa (), although it is ignored in the original orthography. The choice here is between keeping this orthography and ignoring schwa, or re-establishing schwa and changing the orthography. 2. Siraya had maintained part of the original Proto Austronesian voice system. However, this system was losing some voice oppositions and was being re-aligned when Siraya was still spoken. Two approaches are possible: keeping the original Siraya voice system, or adapting to the tendencies to change, which were strong but had not yet taken their full course. 3. Siraya had at least three dialects, two of which are particularly useful for revitalization. In order to build a lexicon for a revitalized Siraya, should the vocabulary of these dialects be combined without further ado? Or should the words from one dialect phonologically be adjusted to the other? Is there a cause for revitalizing various dialects? 4. Siraya had “anticipating sequences”, whereby a formal part (an initial consonant, a syllable, or two syllables) of the lexical verb is prefixed to the adverbial head. Anticipating sequences abound in one dialect but are absent in the other. As it is a rather complicated and irregular feature, should it be taught in modern Siraya classes? And if so, how should it be taught: in all its complexity, or in a somewhat simplified version? Or can it be ignored without causing too much structural imbalance to the grammar?
- Review of Takuu grammar and dictionary: A Polynesian language of the South Pacific - December 1, 2013
- The International Workshop on Language Preservation: An Experiment in Text Collection and Language Technology - October 1, 2013
Abstract: With hundreds of endangered and under-documented languages, Papua New Guinea presents an enormous challenge to the documentary linguistics community. This article reports on a workshop held at the University of Goroka in May and June of 2012. The workshop aimed to collect written texts and their translations for several languages, while building local capacity through hands-on training, and improving our understanding of the appropriate use of technology. The majority of participants were mother tongue speakers who seek to preserve their languages through the preparation of written language resources.
- Review of Language documentation: Practice and values - October 1, 2013
- Building the British Sign Language Corpus - October 1, 2013
Abstract: This paper presents an overview of the British Sign Language Corpus Project—the first endeavor to create a machine-readable digital corpus of British Sign Language (BSL) collected from deaf signers across the United Kingdom. In the field of sign language studies, it represents a unique combination of methodology from variationist sociolinguistics and corpus linguistics. Unlike previous large-scale sign language sociolinguistic projects, the dataset is being annotated and tagged using ELAN software, given metadata descriptions, and the video data has been made accessible, with long-term efforts to make the dataset searchable on-line. This means, however, that participants must consent to having the video data of their sign language use made public. This puts at risk the authenticity of the linguistic data collected, as signers may monitor their production more carefully than usual. We discuss our attempt to minimize this problem by creating a dual-access archive.
- In Defense of the Lone Wolf: Collaboration in Language Documentation - August 1, 2013
Abstract: Collaboration has become a hot topic in the field of language documentation, with many authors insisting that lone wolf research is unethical research. We take issue with the viewpoints that documentary linguists must collaborate with the community, that the linguist’s goals should be subordinate to the goals of community members, and that solo research is necessarily unethical research. Collaborating with community members in language documentation projects is not the only method of treating the community fairly and reciprocating their generosity. There will not always be community members interested in language documentation, nor will there always be community members capable of participation. Even in cases where community members are interested, capable, and willing, both the researcher and the community should be allowed to decide when, where, how, and whether to collaborate. Moreover, we suggest that the insistence on collaboration can cause guilt when collaboration is difficult, or can lead researchers into unproductive or even dangerous situations. On the other hand, we welcome collaboration if both parties retain autonomy in decision-making and both truly want to work collaboratively. There is nothing unethical about setting one’s own research agenda and conducting linguistic fieldwork alone. Lone wolf linguistics isn’t necessarily unethical linguistics.
- Review of Ukelele - July 1, 2013
- Review of Re-awakening languages: Theory and practice in the revitalisation of Australia’s Indigenous languages - April 30, 2013
- Review of New Perspectives on Endangered Languages - April 15, 2013
- The Sociolinguistic Situation of the Manila Bay Chabacano-Speaking Communities - April 14, 2013
Abstract: This study is an assessment of the vitality of the Manila Bay Chabacano varieties spoken in Cavite City and Ternate, Philippines. These Spanish-lexified creoles have often been described as endangered, but until now there has been no systematic description of how stable the varieties are. The evaluation of the vitality of Manila Bay Chabacano is made based on participant observation and interviews conducted in both communities over the past nine years, using the UNESCO (2003) framework. Comparison between the two varieties shows that the proportional size of the speech community, degree of urbanization, and proximity to Manila account for differences in the vitality of the creoles. In rural Ternate, Chabacano is more stable in terms of intergenerational transmission and the proportion of speakers to the overall community. In the more urban Cavite City, most speakers are of the grandparental generation, but the community is more organized in its language preservation efforts. This study sheds light on two creole varieties in need of further documentation and sociolinguistic description, as well as the status of minority languages in the Philippines. It also offers a critical assessment of a practically-oriented methodological framework and demonstrates its application in the field.
- Review of A dictionary of Kalam with ethnographic notes - April 12, 2013
- The Master-Apprentice Language Learning Program Down Under: Experience and Adaptation in an Australian Context - April 12, 2013
Abstract: The Master-Apprentice Language Learning Program (MALLP or MAP; cf. Hinton 2001) has found worldwide attention in recent years and has been attested as a valuable instru- ment in language revitalisation far beyond the borders of North America. In 2009, a pilot project based on this model started for the Miriwoong language in North-western Australia, and has since developed into a successful and expanding strategy which could ultimately lead to a wider application on a nationwide scale. This article describes the various adaptive measures used to reflect the specific needs of the local language community and suggests that similar techniques will be useful for application in other communities. An adaptation of the MAP model in Australia may consider factors such as gender, kinship and other aspects of traditional cultural protocol, as well as some other deviations from the original model. An addition to the program which has proven useful for Miriwoong is the introduction of assessment strategies. These do not only assist in reflecting strengths and weaknesses in participants but can be essential as a tool for reporting requirements. Based on the positive outcomes of the MAP approach for the Miriwoong community, including the adjustments made, the model is recommended for application on a larger scale for other parts of Australia and perhaps beyond.
- Review of EXMARaLDA - April 12, 2013
- Language Management and Minority Language Maintenance in (Eastern) Indonesia: Strategic Issues - March 27, 2013
Abstract: This paper discusses strategic issues in language 'management' (Spolsky 2009; Jennudd and Neustupný 1987) and its complexity in relation to the maintenance of minority languages in contemporary Indonesia. Within Indonesia it is argued that language can be managed and that it should be managed as part of a national language policy framework (among other means). This is especially pertinent in the case of threatened minority languages. The discussion focuses on how categorizing an issue as either a ‘threat’ or an ‘opportunity’ has affected the priorities and the motivations in strategic decisions and implementations of language policies in Indonesia. These labels have symbolic and instrumental values, and both can be potentially exploited to achieve positive outcomes for language survival. However, the complexity and uncertainty of the problems in dealing with minority languages and their speech communities call for a sophisticated interdisciplinary model of language management. The problems will be illustrated using cases from (eastern) Indonesia, showing how Categorization (Cognitive) Theory and Organisational Theory (Rosch 1978; Rosch and Mervis 1975; Dutton & Jackson 1981) are useful for conceptualizing strategic issues by decision makers at different levels – individuals, families, traditional organizations (adat), and government institutions. [Revisions were done during my Humboldt Fellowship stays in Germany in 2012-3.]
- On Being a Linguist and Doing Linguistics: Negotiating Ideology through Performativity - December 1, 2012
Abstract: In this paper I explore and contrast the multiple positions available to me as a linguist, both within the academy and in the communities where I do fieldwork. These domains make quite different demands on me in my professional practice. In my experience, transitioning between these domains can be challenging, since the assumptions about my identity and role are divergent and often conflicting. I use the concept of performativity to identify the different positions I enact and which are attributed to me in each of these roles. I suggest that rather than seeing a binary division between academia and community, it may be useful to conceive of our work with communities as occurring in a third space that is shared by members of the relevant community, but which is distinct from the community per se. Such a distinction provides space for both linguists and communities to negotiate the extent to which ideas, methods, and ideologies from one field are expected to infiltrate another. The advantage of such a model is that it allows everyone involved to recognize and, where appropriate, engage with the frameworks of others. This facilitates a richer understanding of the forces at play in language development work and allows competing priorities a place in the process.
- One Community's Post-Conflict Response to a Dictionary Project - December 1, 2012
Abstract: It may seem that dictionaries would be a low priority for communities struggling with recent ethnic conflict, rapid social change, and economic hardship. However, the potential for dictionaries to have a positive effect on a community’s self-esteem has been noted for Melanesian societies. Furthermore, the potential for managing social change may also underpin a dictionary project. This paper describes the initial response to a dictionary project in a Solomon Islands community and how the community decided to combine lexicography with the revitalization of traditional crafts. The community’s decision to link the revitalization of cultural skills to the dictionary project moved the project firmly into the community’s hands and allowed them to conceive of a future that promotes the maintenance of language and culture. While there is no certainty about the success of the community’s plans, the energy and optimism evident in these initial stages of the project support the general assertion that dictionaries can play a role in increasing the self-esteem of a language community. Within the context of a new, national-level languages policy, the dictionary project is also expected to play a concrete role in language and culture maintenance. The factors impacting self-esteem and language maintenance also have implications for other small language communities.
- Review of Wunderkammer Import Package: A Tool for the Display of Multimedia Dictionaries on Mobile Phones - November 1, 2012
- Notes from the Field: Chicahuaxtla Triqui Digital Wordlist and Preliminary Observations - October 1, 2012
Abstract: This article presents a 200-item list consisting of words and sample sentences from Chicahuaxtla Triqui, an Otomanguean language spoken in San Andrés Chicahuaxtla in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico. The wordlists include broad phonetic transcriptions, English glosses, Spanish cues, individual WAV recordings, and comments. Since the key to understanding Chicahuaxtla Triqui lies in the ability to distinguish tone, the list is divided into two parts: 1) a section consisting of minimal pairs with contrastive phonemic tone and/or lexical items illustrating other interesting phonological characteristics, such as tone, fortis-lenis contrasts, prenasalized velars/pre-voicing, and velar onset nasals; and 2) lexical items that evidence tonal contours but may or may not operate contrastively in the language. To date the files have not been deposited into an institutional archive, however, the present researchers plan to do so once the data are properly categorized. This project involves San Andrés Chicahuaxtla leaders, teachers, community members in addition to researchers, and graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Texas at Arlington. These digital files represent one of a number of ways to increase access not only for the Triqui community members and leaders who are interested in language conservation efforts, but also for linguists, researchers, and students who wish to learn more about the Otomanguean stock of languages.
- Review of Handbook of Descriptive Linguistic Fieldwork - September 1, 2012
- Dominant Language Transfer in Minority Language Documentation Projects: Some Examples from Brunei - September 1, 2012
Abstract: Language documentation often takes place in contexts of heavy language contact, where there is a shift in progress from a minority language to another culturally dominant language. For many younger speakers, the language of their parents is increasingly acquired as a second language, and their communication in this second language shows classic transfer effects, where transfer is “[a] general cover term for a number of different kinds of influence from languages other than the target language” on a learner’s acquisition of that target language (Ellis 1994:341). However, transfer can also been seen as a more pervasive phenomenon, “a constraint imposed by previous knowledge on a more general process, that of inferencing” (Schachter 1992:44). Considered in this light, transfer can influence far more than a given learner’s interlanguage. Assumptions, attitudes, and conceptual models associated with a culturally dominant language can all unconsciously influence assumptions made about minority languages. These can, in turn, affect various strategic decisions made in the documentation of such languages, including whether a given variety should be documented, which speakers should be recorded, which text types to collect, what orthography to use, even what constitutes a genuine feature of the lexis, phonology, morphology, and so on. This paper aims primarily to illustrate this phenomenon, and to explore ways of dealing with it. Dominant language influence needs to be taken into account at each stage of the documentation process, minimizing it where it is intrusive, and taking advantage of it where it can be of use.
- C’ek’aedi Hwnax, the Ahtna Regional Linguistic and Ethnographic Archive - August 1, 2012
Abstract: We discuss the development of the C’ek’aedi Hwnax Ahtna Regional Linguistic and Ethnographic Archive, located in the Copper River valley of south central Alaska. C’ek’aedi Hwnax is the first OLAC-compliant, Indigenously-administered digital language archive in North America. Against the backdrop of the history of language archiving at the Alaska Native Language Center in Fairbanks, we present the Ahtna community’s voiced desire for local control over decades’ worth of irreplaceable linguistic and cultural recordings, along with the steps we took to build the archive. These include the aggregation of recordings from various locations, the process by which they were digitized, and the increase of access to their contents. The Ahtna archive follows guidelines for best practices already undertaken by established university-based archives around the world. At the same time, the archive represents a new model of distributed linguistic archiving in Alaska via a Memorandum of Agreement with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which provides permanent off-site backup of the Ahtna collection on its servers and allows C’ek’aedi Hwnax full administrative control over access to the collection at the university. In this model, the responsibility for administration of language materials traditionally held in a central location is apportioned to different parties according to their needs and resources.
- Linguistic Data Types and the Interface between Language Documentation and Description - May 1, 2012
Abstract: This paper presents a new definition of documentary linguistics, based on a typology of linguistic data types. It clarifies the distinction between raw, primary, and structural data and argues that documentary linguistics is concerned with raw and primary data and their interrelationships, while descriptive linguistics is concerned with the relations between primary and structural data. The fact that primary data are of major concern in both fields reflects the fact that the two fields are very closely interlinked and difficult to separate in actual practice. The details of their interaction in actual practice, however, are still a matter for further discussion and investigation, as the second main part of the paper attempts to make clear.
- Review of WeSay, A Tool for Collaborating on Dictionaries with Non-Linguists - May 1, 2012
- Review of InqScribe - May 1, 2012
- Getting the Story Straight: Language Fieldwork Using a Narrative Problem-Solving Task - May 1, 2012
Abstract: We describe a structured task for gathering enriched language data for descriptive, comparative, and documentary purposes, focusing on the domain of social cognition. The task involves collaborative narrative problem-solving and retelling by a pair or small group of language speakers, and was developed as an aid to investigating grammatical categories relevant to social cognition. The pictures set up a dramatic story in which participants can feel empathetic involvement with the characters, and trace individual motivations, mental and physical states, and points of view. The data-gathering task allows different cultural groups to imbue the pictures with their own experiences, concerns, and conventions, and stimulates the spontaneous use of previously under-recorded linguistic structures. We argue that stimulus-based elicitation tasks that are designed to stimulate a range of speech types (descriptions, dialogic interactions, narrative) within the single task contribute quantitatively and qualitatively to language documentation, and provide an important means of gathering spontaneous but broadly parallel, and thus comparable, linguistic data. [pictures used in these tasks are available here http://hdl.handle.net/10125/4504]
- Documenting Endangered Languages with Linguist’s Assistant - March 1, 2012
Abstract: The Linguist’s Assistant (LA) is a practical computational paradigm for describing languages. LA contains a meaning-based elicitation corpus that is the starting point and organizing principle from which a linguist describes the linguistic surface forms of a language using LA’s visual lexicon and grammatical rule development interface. This paper presents a brief overview of the semantic representation system that we have designed and discusses the meaning-based elicitation methodology. Next it describes the process by which the linguist enters lexical and grammatical information, then it discusses the ancillary functions of LA that allow for an efficient and accurate language description as well as the facilities for producing written documentation of the language. Videos are included to demonstrate the major functionality of LA.
- A Linguistic Assessment of the Munji Language in Afghanistan - March 1, 2012
Abstract: This paper presents a sociolinguistic assessment of the Munji (ISO: mnj) speech variety based on data collected in the Munjan area of northern Afghanistan. The goal was to determine whether a national language is adequate for primary school education and literature, or whether the Munji people would benefit from language development, including literature development in the vernacular. The survey trip entailed administering questionnaires to village elders,sociolinguistic questionnaires as well as Dari proficiency questionnaires to men and women of various age groups, eliciting word lists, and observing intelligibility of Dari and language use. In this way we aimed to determine the vitality of Munji, the different varieties of Munji, the use of Munji and Dari in the different domains of life, attitudes toward the speaking community’s own speech variety and toward Dari, and to investigate their intelligibility of Dari. In this paper we aim to show that the Munji people would benefit from Munji language development as a basis for both primary school material and adult literacy material in the mother tongue. In the long term, this is likely to raise the education level as well as the Munji people’s ability to acquire Dari literacy.
- Participatory Methods for Language Documentation and Conservation: Building Community Awareness and Engagement - February 1, 2012
Abstract: This paper describes three participatory methods to engage communities in research, planning, implementation, and evaluation of language programs for their own benefit. These methods facilitate investigation of sociolinguistic phenomena to inform and spur planning for effective language initiatives. In guided discussion sessions, community members build visual representations of collective knowledge about their language and language practices using text, symbols, and pictures. They are then invited to react to the results and discuss changes they would like to see in their situation. In the first activity, participants build a map of language variation, intelligibility, and language attitudes in their community. In the second activity, patterns of bilingualism among demographic subgroups are diagrammed and analyzed by the community. In the third activity, the community creates a diagram of their language use in various domains. Several pilot tests of the methods were conducted with minority language speakers in Malaysia and Indonesia. Using participatory methods is a valuable process that builds community awareness and engagement with language conservation issues. The process of thinking critically about their own language situation is a step from passivity towards engagement that creates an opportunity for the community to participate in, shape, and own collaborative initiatives for their language
- Subcontracting Native Speakers in Linguistic Fieldwork: A Case Study of the Ashéninka Perené (Arawak) Research Community from the Peruvian Amazon - February 1, 2012
Abstract: In light of a growing need to develop best practices for collaboration between the linguist and community researchers, this study provides orientation points on how to engage native speakers in linguistic fieldwork. Subcontracting native speaker-insiders is a variety of empowering collaborative field research, in which trained collaborators independently make audio and video recordings of fellow speakers in the research community, with subsequent transcription and translation of the collected texts. Using fieldwork in the Peruvian high jungle communities of Ashéninka Perené (Kampan, Arawak) as a case study, this paper examines practicalities of subcontracting such as identifying potential subcontractors, negotiating and signing an agreement, training to use practical orthography and equipment, and evaluation of the end-product.
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