The 5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC), “Vital Voices: Linking Language & Wellbeing,” will be held March 2-5, 2017, at the Hawaiʻi Imin International Conference Center on the campus of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. The 5th ICLDC is hosted by the Department of Linguistics and the National Foreign Language Resource Center at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
The conference program will feature two keynote talks, Talk Story roundtable discussions, and Workshops (pending final approval of funding). An optional Hilo Field Study (on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi) to visit Hawaiian language revitalization programs in action will immediately precede the conference (February 28-March 1).
The theme of the 5th ICLDC is “Vital Voices: Linking Language & Wellbeing.” Wellbeing is a state of the body and mind that encompasses the presence of positive moods and emotions, life satisfaction, fulfillment and positive functioning, and the absence of negative emotions like anxiety. Increasingly, researchers in several fields have noted a positive correlation between language maintenance and wellbeing in endangered language communities. While the nature of the connection between language and wellbeing remains the subject of much debate, the existence of a connection is not entirely unexpected, given the range of outcomes associated with wellbeing.
In addition, languages encode knowledge systems, so language loss represents not only the loss of a communicative system, but also the loss of traditional knowledge systems. Importantly, traditional knowledge systems encode cultural practices related to well-being. Understanding the connections between language and wellbeing will potentially have implications for public health and policy and beyond, but also for language researchers, since traditional knowledge systems are among the most threatened domains of endangered language. Knowledge of esoteric domains such as botanical classification and traditional medicines is forgotten well before basic vocabulary and language structure. Hence, these areas of traditional knowledge are precisely the areas which need to be prioritized by language documenters.
Exploring the connections between language and wellbeing is potentially transformational for language documentation and conservation, and thus it will be the theme for the 5th ICLDC. We aim to build on the strong momentum created by the 1st–4th ICLDCs to discuss research and revitalization approaches yielding rich records that can benefit both the field of language documentation and speech communities. We hope you will join us.