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 categorizcategorizing 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.
The Sociolinguistic Situation of the Manila Bay Chabacano-Speaking Communities
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.
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 Aus- tralia, and has since developed into a successful and expanding strategy which could ulti- mately 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.
In Defense of the Lone Wolf: Collaboration in Language Documentation
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.
Building the British Sign Language Corpus
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.
The International Workshop on Language Preservation: An Experiment in Text Collection and Language Technology
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.