Category Archives: Journal Volumes

Vol. 16 (2022)

User needs in language archives: Findings from interviews with language archive managers, depositors, and end-users
Mary Burke, Oksana L. Zavalina, Shobhana L. Chelliah & Mark E. Phillips pp. 1-24

Language archives, like other scholarly digital repositories, are built with two major audiences in mind. These are depositors of language data and various potential end-users of these materials: researchers (linguistics and others), language communities, students, educators, artists, etc. Being a relatively new phenomenon, language archives have made significant strides forward in providing access to digital language data. With the purpose of identifying the needs of language archive end-users (both met and currently unmet), our interdisciplinary team of linguists and information scientists interviewed language archive managers, end-users, and depositors. This study offers a first look into the decision-making processes and end-user experiences of these groups. To support the continued development of language archives, the exploratory study reported in this article provides empirical data on language archive user needs and supports some anecdotal evidence of known issues facing language archive end-users, depositors, and managers in primarily academic contexts.

Review of Creating orthographies for endangered languages
Bryn Hauk pp. 25-31

Two decades of sign language and gesture research in Australia: 2000–2020
Jennifer Green, Gabrielle Hodge, Barbara F. Kelly pp. 32-78

In this article, we provide an overview of the last twenty years of research on Indigenous sign languages, deaf community sign languages, co-speech gesture, and multimodal communication in the Australian context. From a global perspective, research on sign languages and on the gestures that normally accompany speech has been used as the basis for exploring different aspects of linguistic theory. Such research informs debates about the nature of the human language capacity and questions as to whether the diverse range of languages we see in the world share some universal patterns of organisation. We outline some of the theoretical and methodological achievements of scholars working in these interconnected disciplines in Australia, highlight the value of corpus-based approaches to linguistic research, draw attention to research on multimodality in the verbal arts, and discuss community-oriented research outputs guided by collaborative research practices. The article is accompanied by an on-line and editable bibliography of well over 300 publications that is accessible to researchers and others working in these related fields.

Building trust on Zoom: A workflow for language documentation via videoconferencing software
Karolina Grzech, Selena Tisalema Shaca pp. 79-97

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the capacity to conduct linguistic fieldwork in person. For many fieldworkers, this meant they needed to adapt, and do so urgently. This paper discusses a language documentation workflow based entirely on the online conferencing software Zoom, in which a linguist, external to the community, establishes a new project together with a native-speaker community member. The paper describes how such a working relationship can be built online, and accounts for all the steps of the authors’ Zoom-mediated workflow in detail allowing for their replication. It also offers a critical appraisal of this workflow from the perspectives of both the native speaker and the researcher. To conclude, the authors summarise all the conditions necessary for a workflow like this one to be successful.

Supporting linguistic data collection from afar: A mobile metadata system
Richard T. Griscom, pp. 98-119

The global COVID-19 pandemic has put into high relief the need for better remote communication and collaboration tools, but also serves as an opportunity to focus on building community capacity and promoting greater community agency in the language documentation process. This paper describes a method for remotely supporting and monitoring a language documentation project conducted by speakers, community activists, and/or academic researchers, through the use of a free and open-source data collection platform called KoBoToolbox. Rather than relying on access to audiovisual data, which are typically large and can be difficult to share remotely, the system is based on the creation of digital linguistic metadata with mobile devices linked to a secure central server, giving project leaders the ability to immediately access metadata as it is submitted, quickly generate summary reports and visualizations, and export metadata for further processing and archiving. The system is suitable for anyone who would like to integrate mobile metadata into a new or ongoing project and is able to provide the necessary training either remotely or in person.

Language ideology planning as central to successful revitalization projects
Sarah Shulist, Tania Granadillo, pp. 120-144

Linguistic and anthropological research has demonstrated that language ideologies play a complex role in contexts of language endangerment, as well as in revitalization initiatives. In this paper, we articulate some central ways in which these beliefs and interests can translate into significant barriers to successful language revitalization. Based on collaborative ethnographic fieldwork with Indigenous languages in North and South America, we propose a model for planning language ideologies as a practice that can be deliberately incorporated into revitalization efforts. Given the urgency of the situation facing many languages, we argue that treating language ideologies as requiring planning is necessary and offer preliminary suggestions about what this planning could look like by analyzing examples around the language ideology assemblages of language teaching and learning.

Knowing and remembering: Rethinking lexical recall as a measure of proficiency in endangered language communities
Daria Boltokova, Jessica Kantarovich, Lenore Grenoble, Maria Pupynina, pp. 145-167

This paper problematizes the assessment of speakers’ proficiency in endangered language communities. We focus in particular on processes of lexical production and elicitation as proxies for full proficiency assessment. Among linguists, it is standard to assess a speaker’s knowledge of specific lexical items in order to set a baseline for further data collection and research. Yet, as we argue in this paper, such tests can give the false impression that speakers do not know their language, since such tests do not distinguish between what speakers can recall in a particular moment and what they do not know because they did not acquire it. The endangered language context in particular calls for a more fine-tuned interpretation of lexical knowledge, given the high degree of idiolectal variation and lack of a community-based standard language. Drawing on fieldwork with Chukchi and Even Indigenous communities in northeastern Russia, we analyze lexical items that speakers claim to not remember. We then distinguish different reasons that are given for not remembering and consider their implications for speakers’ proficiency. Finally, we conclude with two recommendations for improving elicitation and language assessment tests.

Musicolinguistic documentation: Tone & tune in Tlahuapa Tù’un Sàví songs
Morgan Sleeper, Griselda Reyes Basurto, pp. 168-208

This study introduces a new methodology for integrating musical and linguistic data in language documentation, using ABC notation and open-source tools like ELAN and MuseScore. Designed for portability and exportability, and to facilitate both linguistic analysis and community-oriented material development, this methodology is used here to explore the link between linguistic tone and musical tune in Tlahuapa Tù’un Sàví, a Mixtec language of Guerrero, Mexico. Through a multimodal analysis of three Tlahuapa Tù’un Sàví songs, this study illuminates several interactions between tone and tune, including a strong preference for melodic lines to move in parallel with the tone melody of the lyrics and associations between musical ornamentation and specific tonemes. The results of this study not only increase our understanding of the tonal system of Tlahuapa Tù’un Sàví and its interaction with musical style but also help illustrate the rich potential of musical data in linguistic research and documentation. More than simply language data with a melody, the combination of music and language in song offers a unique opportunity for analysis not otherwise possible, and the methodologies demonstrated here aim to make this combination as accessible as possible for researchers, archivers, and community members alike.

Networks of support: How online resources are built, maintained, and adapted for community language revitalization needs at FirstVoices
Bridget Chase, Kyra Borland, pp. 209-227

FirstVoices is a technology-centered organization that works with forty-seven Indigenous language communities around British Columbia. One of its top priorities is providing high-quality technical assistance as well as accessible annual training sessions for the platform. This requires nuanced systems of support and adaptability within the methods we use. Over the last two years, its team has grown and modified its procedures with the goal of best serving the unique needs of different communities. With nearly 1,000 support emails in its Service Desk system since June 2018 and two years of regional training – one in-person, one entirely online – the team has tracked trends within technology-centered language requests. In this paper, we will conduct a mixed methods analysis of all the support tickets the team has received, as well as an analysis of the qualitative and quantitative feedback from training sessions in order to break down the patterns and themes that exist. We will also discuss the process of creating and maintaining a wiki-style Knowledge Base, the variety of techniques employed to assist remote users, and the potential for future growth in FirstVoices’ networks of support. Our intentions with this paper are to provide insight for community groups, language organizations, and linguists alike around capacity-building opportunities in the field of digital language mobilization. As FirstVoices continues to grow and as technology becomes even more essential within the realm of language revitalization, it is crucial that we make note of these trends and prepare ourselves to adapt to the digital-based needs of language communities.

Centering relationality in online Indigenous language learning: Reflecting on the creation and use of Rosetta Stone Chickasaw
Kari A. B. Chew, Lokosh (Joshua D. Hinson), Juliet Morgan, pp. 228-258

Drawing on the authors’ experiences developing Rosetta Stone Chickasaw (RSC), an asynchronous online Chikashshanompa’ (Chickasaw language) course, this article shares examples of how relationality is enacted in online Indigenous language learning. We discuss the RSC interface and ways that it created opportunities and barriers to centering Indigenous and Chikasha (Chickasaw) relational epistemologies in which people are related to one another, the land, the spirits, and to the language itself. Our reflections on relationality in RSC are guided by the following questions: What relationships are required to create an online Indigenous language course? How do people create and strengthen relationships in online education spaces? How can online language work be re-emplaced in off-line relationships? Sharing examples from RSC, we consider relationality in video, audio, images, written instruction, and assessment. We conclude by returning to our guiding questions, offering our reflections and encouragement to others who may undertake similar work.

Shifting teacher/learner roles in language reclamation efforts relying on digital technology
Edwin Ko, pp. 259-289

This paper examines social interactions between caregivers and youths at two language revitalization camps of Northern Pomo, a dormant language of Northern California. Drawing from video- and audio-recorded interactions at the two camps, I examine the discursive strategies caregivers use while collaborating with youths in joint language-learning activities. Because some of the activities rely on the use of digital tools, I also investigate whether the use of digital technology has any effect on these strategies and on social interactions more generally. By employing discourse analytic techniques, I find that youths often position themselves in the more powerful role of teacher while positioning caregivers in the role of student regardless of whether digital technology is used. The key insight is that caregivers, who act as agents of primary socialization, acquiesce in the roles that are imposed on them. They do this by surrendering some of their own authority to create a space that helps to promote youth empowerment. Thus, inversions of positions – and power – may be seen as a welcoming and, perhaps, important aspect of the language revitalization endeavor.

Linking endangerment databases and descriptive linguistics: An assessment of the use of terms relating to language endangerment in grammars
Roberto Zariquiey, Mónica Arakaki, Javier Vera, Guido Torres-Orihuela, Claret Cuba-Raime, Carlos Barrientos, Aracelli García, Adriano Ingunza, Harald Hammarström, pp. 290-318

The world harbours a diversity of some 6,500 mutually unintelligible languages. As has been increasingly observed by linguists, many minority languages are becoming endangered and will be lost forever if not documented. The increased urgency has led to the development of several global endangerment databases and a more fine-grained understanding of the language endangerment progression as well as its possible reversal. In the present paper, we explore the terminological correlates of this development as found in the descriptive linguistic literature, using a corpus of over 10,000 digitized grammatical descriptions. Comparing this with existing endangerment databases, we find that simply counting terms related to endangerment does signal endangerment, but the degree of endangerment is more difficult to assess from grammatical descriptions. The label endangered seems to be an umbrella term that covers different situations ranging from moribund languages with less than ten speakers to minority languages with several thousand speakers. For many languages considered endangered in existing databases, explicit terms to this effect cannot be found in their descriptions. The discrepancy is due to incompleteness of the searchterm set, gaps in the literature, and projected rather than observed information in the databases. Our explorations illustrate the potential for database curation assisted by computational searches both to maintain accuracy of the databases and to investigate assumed language endangerment. Future work includes a larger cloud of search terms, usage of term frequencies, and prescreening of descriptive literature for the existence of a relevant section. From the perspective of descriptive linguistics, this study calls for a more careful correlation between the language endangerment indexes, as developed in the global endangerment databases, and the treatment of the endangerment status of individual languages in descriptive grammars.

Maya-kwobabiny: Re-embedding language at Kepa Kurl, Western Australia
Clint Bracknell, Amy Budrikis, Roma Yibiyung Winmar, pp. 319-340

This paper describes a Nyungar language revitalisation project in the southern region of Western Australia conducted in partnership between a university research team and the Esperance Tjaltjraak Native Title Aboriginal Corporation. It discusses how linguistic analysis of historical Nyungar documentation was essential to addressing community aims of re-embedding the language into the community, developing and using pedagogical resources, and exploring new domains for language use. In particular, this paper focuses on the community’s desire for the reclamation of a dialectal flavour of Nyungar that is distinctive to the Esperance region, and the factors contributing to a successful partnership between the researchers and the community organisation in terms of capacity-building, leadership, and sustainability.

Experiences with remote linguistic-ethnobiological fieldwork on bird names in the Qaqet language of Papua New Guinea
Henrike Frye, Shirley Balar, Aung Si, pp. 341-363

Language-focused ethnobiological research can be a challenging endeavour, even when research teams are able to access their field sites and talk to consultants in person. The challenges are compounded when research must be carried out remotely. In this paper, we present our experiences in carrying out remote linguistic-ethnobiological research on bird names in the Qaqet language spoken in East New Britain Province, Papua New Guinea, with the participation of a locally based research assistant. We discuss the numerous issues faced by the researchers and the assistant and the steps we took collaboratively to overcome these issues. Ultimately, changes were required to the stimulus materials, interview protocol, and consultant selection procedure; these changes were implemented stepwise over a series of four field trips. The data obtained in the process provide the first reliable identifications of culturally important bird species in Qaqet, along with ethnographic reports of the role these birds play in Qaqet society and culture. This, and other preliminary findings on phenomena such as interindividual variation, has indicated fruitful avenues for research, following the end of the current global crisis.


Vol. 15 (2021)

Notes from the Field: Wisconsin Walloon Documentation and Orthography
Kelly Biers & Ellen Osterhaus, pp. 1-29

Wisconsin Walloon is a heritage dialect of a threatened language in the langue d’oïl family that originated in southern Belgium and expanded to northeastern Wisconsin, USA in the mid-1850s. Walloon-speaking immigrants formed an isolated agricultural community, passing on and using the language for the next two generations until English became the dominant functional language. Although younger generations today have not learned the language, there remain enough Walloon speakers as well as Belgian descendants interested in their linguistic heritage to have generated community support for a Walloon documentation and conservation project. In this paper, we report on the results of over three years of collaboration between university researchers, students, and community members to document, study, and promote the language for the benefit of both scholars and community. We provide a description of the language, collaborative documentation efforts, and the development of community resources, including a phonetically-accessible Walloon orthography. We conclude with an outlook on future work with an eye toward increased community-led efforts.

What’s your sign for TORTILLA? Documenting lexical variation in Yucatec Maya Sign Languages
Josefina Safar, pp. 30-74

In this paper, I discuss methodological and ethical issues that arose in the process of documenting lexical variation in Yucatec Maya Sign Languages (YMSLs). YMSLs are indigenous sign languages used by deaf and hearing people in Yucatec Maya villages with a high incidence of deafness in the peninsula of Yucatán, Mexico. The documentation of rural sign languages such as YMSLs shares many characteristics with research on urban sign languages as well as spoken minority languages, but it also comes with a range of specific challenges. Elicitation materials, research procedures, and ethical decisions need to be adapted to specific local and cultural requirements while trying to maintain a level of comparability with previous studies. I will illustrate this process of negotiation by providing a detailed account of how I developed stimulus materials for lexical elicitation, obtained informed consent from the participants, and established ways of collaboration with community members in the Yucatec Maya Sign Language Documentation Project. Furthermore, I will present first results about lexical variation in YMSLs.

Living Language, Resurgent Radio: A Survey of Indigenous Language Broadcasting Initiatives
David Danos & Mark Turin, pp. 75-152

For a demise that has been predicted for over 60 years, radio is a remarkably resilient communications medium, and one that warrants deeper examination as a vehicle for the revitalization of historically marginalized and Indigenous languages. 

Radio has not been eroded by the rise of new media, whether that be television, video, or newer multimodal technologies associated with the internet. To the contrary, communities are leveraging the formerly analogue medium of radio in transformative ways, breathing new life into old transistors, and using radio for the transmission of stories, song, and conversation. In this contribution, we highlight effective and imaginative uses of radio for Indigenous language reclamation through a series of case studies, and we offer a preliminary analysis of the structural conditions that can both support and impede developments in Indigenous-language radio programming. 

The success of radio for Indigenous language programming is thanks to the comparatively low cost of operations, its asynchronous nature that supports programs to be consumed at any time (through repeats, podcasts, downloads, and streaming services) and the unusual, even unique, quality of radio being both engaging yet not all-consuming, meaning that a listener can be actively involved in another activity at the same time.

Ticuna (tca) language documentation: A guide to materials in the California Language Archive
Amalia Skilton, pp. 153-189

Ticuna (ISO: tca) is a language isolate spoken in the northwestern Amazon Basin (Brazil, Colombia, Peru). Ticuna has more speakers than almost all other Indigenous Amazonian languages and – unlike most languages of the area – is still learned by children. Yet academic linguists have given it relatively little research attention. Therefore, to raise the profile of this areally important language, I offer a guide to three collections of Ticuna language materials held in the California Language Archive. These materials are extensive, including over 1,396 hours of recordings – primarily of child language and everyday conversations between adults – and 33 hours of transcriptions. To contextualize the materials, I provide background on the Ticuna language and people; the research projects which produced the materials; the participants who appear in them; and the ethical and permissions issues involved in collecting them. I then discuss the nature and scope of the materials, showing how the content of each collection motivated collection-specific choices about recording, transcription, organization in the archive, and metadata. Last, I outline how other researchers could draw on the collections for comparative analysis.

Language use and attitudes as indicators of subjective vitality: The Iban of Sarawak, Malaysia
Su-Hie Ting, Andyson Tinggang, & Lilly Metom, pp. 190-218

The study examined the subjective ethnolinguistic vitality of an Iban community in Sarawak, Malaysia based on their language use and attitudes. A survey of 200 respondents in the Song district was conducted. To determine the objective ethnolinguistic vitality, a structural analysis was performed on their sociolinguistic backgrounds. The results show the Iban language dominates in family, friendship, transactions, religious, employment, and education domains. The language use patterns show functional differentiation into the Iban language as the “low language” and Malay as the “high language”. The respondents have positive attitudes towards the Iban language. The dimensions of language attitudes that are strongly positive are use of the Iban language, Iban identity, and intergenerational transmission of the Iban language. The marginally positive dimensions are instrumental use of the Iban language, social status of Iban speakers, and prestige value of the Iban language. Inferential statistical tests show that language attitudes are influenced by education level. However, language attitudes and use of the Iban language are not significantly correlated. By viewing language use and attitudes from the perspective of ethnolinguistic vitality, this study has revealed that a numerically dominant group assumed to be safe from language shift has only medium vitality, based on both objective and subjective evaluation.

Playing with Language: Three Language Games in the Gulf of Guinea
Ana Lívia Agostinho & Gabriel Antunes de Araujo, pp. 219-238

We present a description and an analysis of three related language games in Africa’s Gulf of Guinea: Fa d’Ambô’s Fa do Vesu, Lung’Ie’s Faa di Vesu, and São Tomé and Príncipe Portuguese’s P-language. We show how these language games can be used to investigate the linguistic features of their main languages and as learning resources for second language learners. First, we defend the common origin of these language games and that they emerged from contact with Portuguese settlers’ Língua do Pê’s varieties. Second, we discuss phonological issues, such as syllable structure, focusing on the loci of onglides, offglides, syllabic nasals, and word prosody. Finally, we discuss how these ludlings can help speakers, learners, and linguists perceive phonological properties as well as the contribution of describing and analyzing language games for language documentation.

#KeepOurLanguagesStrong: Indigenous Language Revitalization on Social Media during the Early COVID-19 Pandemic
Kari A. B. Chew, pp. 239-266

Indigenous communities, organizations, and individuals work tirelessly to #KeepOurLanguagesStrong. The COVID-19 pandemic was potentially detrimental to Indigenous language revitalization (ILR) as this mostly in-person work shifted online. This article shares findings from an analysis of public social media posts, dated March through July 2020 and primarily from Canada and the US, about ILR and the COVID-19 pandemic. The research team, affiliated with the NEȾOLṈEW̱ “one mind, one people” Indigenous language research partnership at the University of Victoria, identified six key themes of social media posts concerning ILR and the pandemic, including: 1. language promotion, 2. using Indigenous languages to talk about COVID-19, 3. trainings to support ILR, 4. language education, 5. creating and sharing language resources, and 6. information about ILR and COVID-19. Enacting the principle of reciprocity in Indigenous research, part of the research process was to create a short video to share research findings back to social media. This article presents a selection of slides from the video accompanied by an in-depth analysis of the themes. Written about the pandemic, during the pandemic, this article seeks to offer some insights and understandings of a time during which much is uncertain. Therefore, this article does not have a formal conclusion; rather, it closes with ideas about long-term implications and future research directions that can benefit ILR.

Community Archiving of Ethnic Groups in Thailand
Siripen Ungsitipoonporn, Buachut Watyam, Vera Ferreira, & Mandana Seyfeddinipur, pp. 267-284

This article presents the research process of the project “The Ethnic Group Digital Archive Project: Promoting the protection and preservation of language and culture diversity in Thailand”. This project involved the development of a local digital archive website for the ethnic groups of Thailand to archive, preserve, and transmit their knowledge of languages and cultures to their younger generations and those interested. The core objective of this digital archive development was the implementation of the archive website with uncomplicated accessibility and simple and interesting design that serves the language documentation purpose. The digital archive output includes collections from 18 ethnic groups in Thailand, containing 385 bundles of legacy and fieldwork data obtained by means of video, audio, text, image, and ELAN file. Despite the low number of researchers working on language documentation and archiving, the research team managed to expand both national and international networks working in this particular field of study. This serves as an opportunity for scholars and speaker communities in Thailand to recognize the importance of local knowledge preservation and transmission, and the availability of the digital archive is a practical way to support sustainable data preservation and accessibility in the future.

Virtual Frisian: A comparison of language use in North and West Frisian virtual communities
Guillem Belmar & Hauke Heyen, pp. 285-315

Social networking sites have become ubiquitous in our daily communicative exchanges, which has brought about new platforms of identification and opened possibilities that were out of reach for many minoritized communities. As they represent an increasing percentage of the media we consume, these sites have been considered crucial for revitalization processes. However, the growing importance of social media may also pose a problem for minoritized languages, as the need for communication with a wider audience seems to require the use of a language of wider communication. One way in which this apparent need for a global language can be avoided is by creating virtual communities where the minoritized languages can be used without competition, a virtual breathing space. 

This study analyzes language practices of eight communities: four North Frisian and four West Frisian virtual communities. The analysis focuses on the languages used in each community, the topics discussed, as well as the status of the minoritized language in the community. A total of 1,127 posts are analyzed to determine whether these communities function as breathing spaces, the factors that may foster or prevent the emergence of these spaces, and the similarities and differences between these two sociolinguistic contexts.

Collecting and annotating corpora for three under-resourced languages of France: Methodological issues
Delphine Bernhard, Anne-Laure Ligozat, Myriam Bras, Fanny Martin, Marianne Vergez-Couret, Pascale Erhart, Jean Sibille, Amalia Todirascu, Philippe Boula de Mareüil, & Dominique Huck, pp. 316-357

In contrast to French, the vast majority of regional languages of France can be considered as under-resourced. In this article, we present the results of a research project aiming to produce annotated resources for three regional languages of France: Alsatian, Occitan, and Picard. These languages cover three different language families (Germanic and two subfamilies of Romance, Oïl and Oc languages) and different sociolinguistic situations. Yet, they all face issues common to many under-resourced languages: lack of human and financial resources and presence of geolinguistic variation. The originality of this project is that it brought together researchers from different fields (sociolinguistics, descriptive linguistics, dialectology, natural language processing, digital humanities) to work together towards the common goal of developing annotated corpora for Alsatian, Occitan, and Picard. This created a favorable and stimulating working environment which could not have been achieved had different research groups worked independently, each on a single language. This article details the annotation process, with a special focus on the delimitation of the tokens and the definition of the part-of-speech tags.

The Utility of Orthographic Design for Different Users: The Case of the Approved Dagbani Orthography
Fusheini Angulu Hudu, pp. 358-374

This paper presents a critical assessment of the utility of the orthography of Dagbani (a Gur language of Ghana) in the documentation, linguistic research, and literacy acquisition of Dagbani. While written literature on Dagbani dates to over a century, it was only in 1997 that the only known documented orthographic rules of the language, the Approved Dagbani Orthography (ADO), was put together. Its stated goal was to address inconsistencies that existed in the orthographic rules at the time. It has since largely served this goal and has remained a resource for linguists engaged in language documentation and linguistic research as well as adult and young learners acquiring literacy in Dagbani in formal and informal settings. The paper discusses the influence of the orthography in the understanding of aspects of Dagbani linguistics and the challenges that remain with its use in modern-day multimodal communication. It shows that while the ADO has impacted literacy, documentation, and research on Dagbani linguistics, aspects of the design of the orthography have limited its potential impact and have given room for the emergence or maintenance of co-orthographic practices used for electronic communication and in the documentation of names in non-native official circles.

The Conundrum of Friulian Language Vitality
Simone De Cia, pp. 375-410

Italy is characterized by a considerable amount of language variation. Only a few spoken vernaculars enjoy institutional support and are officially recognized as minority languages. Among these, Friulian is one of the largest in terms of number of speakers. In the past decade, the assessment of Friulian language vitality has yielded discordant conclusions. The aim of the present paper is to shed light on Friulian’s vitality by providing an informed discussion of the findings of the three most recent studies on the topic, namely De Cia (2013), Coluzzi (2015), and Melchior (2015). As a framework for discussion and means of synthesis among the different claims put forward on Friulian’s vitality, I will make reference to the nine factors of language vitality proposed by UNESCO (2003): each factor describes six possible sociolinguistic scenarios, which reflect six different levels of language vitality. Despite its official status and institutional support, Friulian lacks young native speakers and is used more and more infrequently in a limited number of social settings. The overall picture suggests that a marked process of language shift from Friulian to Italian is taking place. National and regional authorities should take immediate action to ensure the future survival of the minority language.

Collaborative Fieldwork with Custom Mobile Apps
Mat Bettinson & Steven Bird, pp. 411-432

Mobile apps have the potential to support collaborative fieldwork even where web connectivity is unreliable or unavailable. To explore this potential, we developed portable network infrastructure and custom-made field tool apps. We deployed this solution in remote communities in the far north of Australia, in connection with co-located cooperative language work. Throughout a series of visits, we worked with community members to iterate the designs, optimising their suitability for the tasks and the context. We found that custom toolmaking provides the benefits of digital collaboration tailored for the specific needs of the environment and community. However, we argue that it is activity design – not the technology itself – that must be foregrounded, placing fieldworkers in the driving seat of innovation in digital fieldwork practice.

The Role of Input in Language Revitalization: The Case of Lexical Development
William O’Grady, Raina Heaton, Sharon Bulalang & Jeanette King, pp. 433-457

Immersion programs have long been considered the gold standard for school-based language revitalization, but surprisingly little attention has been paid to the quantity and quality of the input that they provide to young language learners. Drawing on new data from three such programs (Kaqchikel, Western Subanon, and Māori), each with its own particular motivation, objectives, and pedagogical practices, we examine a key component of this revitalization strategy, namely the amount and type of lexical input that children receive. Our findings include previously unknown facts about the number of words that children in these programs hear per hour, the ratio of word tokens to word types, and the skewed frequency distribution of the particular words that make up the input. We discuss our findings with reference both to comparable measures for first language acquisition in a home setting and to their relevance for pedagogical strategies in the classroom.

Mapping Urban Linguistic Diversity in New York City: Motives, Methods, Tools, and Outcomes
Ross Perlin, Daniel Kaufman, Mark Turin, Maya Daurio, Sienna Craig, Jason Lampel, pp. 458-490

Communities around the world have distinctive ways of representing language use across space and territory. The approach to and method of mapping languages that began with nineteenth-century European dialectology and colonial boundary making is one such way. Though practiced by relatively few linguists today, language mapping has developed considerably from its roots yet remains stymied by problems of ideology, representation, and data quality. In this paper, we argue that digital language mapping in hyperdiverse cities can both contribute to overcoming these problems and bring visibility and resources to communities using Indigenous, minority, and primarily oral languages. For these communities, official surveys like the census are often inadequate, leaving a gap that communities, linguists, and mapping experts working in partnership can address. Urban language mapping as a field should make space for Indigenous, minority, and primarily oral languages through geospatial visualization – in terms that the communities themselves recognize and with a public policy agenda. As a case study, we present our ongoing efforts with LANGUAGEMAP.NYC to map the most linguistically diverse urban center in the world: New York City.

Automatic Speech Recognition for Supporting Endangered Language Documentation
Emily Prud’hommeaux, Robbie Jimerson, Richard Hatcher, Karin Michelson, pp. 491-513

Generating accurate word-level transcripts of recorded speech for language documentation is difficult and time-consuming, even for skilled speakers of the target language. Automatic speech recognition (ASR) has the potential to streamline transcription efforts for endangered language documentation, but the practical utility of ASR for this purpose has not been fully explored. In this paper, we present results of a study in which both linguists and community members, with varying levels of language proficiency, transcribe audio recordings of an endangered language under timed conditions with and without the assistance of ASR. We find that both time-to-transcribe and transcription error rates are significantly reduced when correcting ASR for language learners of all levels. Despite these improvements, most community members in our study express a preference for unassisted transcription, highlighting the need for developers to directly engage with stakeholders when designing and deploying technologies for supporting language documentation.

Using YouTube as the Primary Transcription and Translation Platform for Remote Corpus Work
Alexander Rice, pp. 514-550

This paper presents a remote corpus work model that was developed between an outside researcher and community collaborator to continue transcription/translation work at a distance with previously collected material in response to the travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. The paper describes, in detail, the corpus work model, which is based on Ryan Pennington’s (2014) SayMore-FLEx-ELAN workflow and uses YouTube as the primary transcription/translation platform. The paper also describes the pros, cons, and specific situational context in which this model has proven useful so that other documentation teams in similar contexts might benefit. In addition to simply providing a method of doing corpus work remotely, the model also provides a way to maintain community capacity building at a distance.

Between Stress and Tone: Acoustic Evidence of Word Prominence in Kurtöp
Gwendolyn Hyslop, pp. 551-575

Classic typologies within prosody tend to treat ‘tone’ languages as being diametrically opposed to ‘stress’ languages. However, Hyman (2006) highlights several languages that can have both, including Seneca, Fasu, and Copala Trique. As language documentation advances and our acoustic methodologies in the field are further refined, we have seen this list continue to expand. The aim in this article is to further this research trajectory by presenting the correlates of stress in Kurtöp, a tonal Tibeto-Burman language. Kurtöp has a word-level tone system, in which high versus low tone is required on the first syllable of every word. Stress, or prosodic word-level prominence, is realised on the first syllable of a root. Thus, stress and tone usually occur on the same syllable; they are only separated from each other when the negative prefix triggers movement of the tone to the initial syllable, leaving a stressed but toneless second syllable. Based on data collected in the field from three speakers, this article shows that the primary correlate of stress is duration, not pitch, intensity, or expansion of vowel space.

Vol. 14 (2020)

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Articles

Notes from the Field: Inagta Alabat: A moribund Philippine language, with supporting audio
Jason William Lobel, Amy Jugueta Alpay, Rosie Susutin Barreno, & Emelinda Jugueta Barreno, pp. 1-57

Arguably the most critically-endangered language in the Philippines, Inagta Al- abat (also known as Inagta Lopez and Inagta Villa Espina) is spoken by fewer than ten members of the small Agta community on the island of Alabat off the northern coast of Quezon Province on the large northern Philippine island of Lu- zon, and by an even smaller number of Agta further east in the province. This short sketch provides some brief sociolinguistic notes on the group, followed by an overview of its phoneme system, grammatical subsystems, and verb system. Over 800 audio recordings accompany the article, including 100 sentences, three short narratives, and a list of over 200 basic vocabulary items.

Nearly half a century has passed since Philippine educator Teodoro Llamzon discovered the Remontado language, which would be introduced to the world in a master’s thesis written by his student Pilar Santos. Although data from the wordlists they collected have been included in subsequent publications by several other authors, no one had revisited the language community, let alone collected any additional data on this highly-endangered language, prior to the current authors. This article presents updated information on the language community, the current state of the language, and a revised description of the various grammatical subsystems of the language, including its verbal morphology. Also included are over 400 audio recordings illustrating basic aspects of the phonology as well as the various functor sets and verb forms, and a short text for comparison with other similar language sketches.

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Vol. 13 (2019)

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Articles

Notes from the Field: Remontado (Hatang-Kayi): A Moribund Language of the Philippines
Jason William Lobel & Orlando Vertudez Surbano, pp. 1-35

Nearly half a century has passed since Philippine educator Teodoro Llamzon discovered the Remontado language, which would be introduced to the world in a master’s thesis written by his student Pilar Santos. Although data from the wordlists they collected have been included in subsequent publications by several other authors, no one had revisited the language community, let alone collected any additional data on this highly-endangered language, prior to the current authors. This article presents updated information on the language community, the current state of the language, and a revised description of the various grammatical subsystems of the language, including its verbal morphology. Also included are over 400 audio recordings illustrating basic aspects of the phonology as well as the various functor sets and verb forms, and a short text for comparison with other similar language sketches.

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Vol. 12 (2018)

 

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Articles

The endangered state of Negidal: A field report
Brigitte Pakendorf & Natalia Aralova, pp. 1-14

Negidal is a Northern Tungusic language closely related to Evenki with two recognized dialects, Upper and Lower Negidal. This nearly extinct language used to be spoken in the Lower Amur region of the Russian Far East by people whose traditional way of life was based on fishing and hunting. While the number of remaining active speakers of Upper Negidal was more or less known, the current state of Lower Negidal was still uncertain. We here report on a trip to ascertain the state of Lower Negidal and give a precise assessment of the linguistic situation of both dialects. While the Upper dialect is still represented by seven elderly female speakers, varying in proficiency from fully fluent to barely able to produce a narrative, not a single active speaker of Lower Negidal is left. The language will therefore probably be extinct in the next decade or two. Continue reading

Vol. 11 (2017)

 

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LD&C 10th Anniversary Articles

LD&C possibilities for the next decade
Nick Thieberger, pp. 1–4

The Founding of Language Documentation & Conservation
Kenneth L. Rehg, pp. 5–9

Articles

Language Vitality among the Mako Communities of the Ventuari River
Jorge Emilio Rosés Labrada, pp. 10–48

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Vol. 10 (2016)

 

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Articles

Chirila: Contemporary and Historical Resources for the Indigenous Languages of Australia
Claire Bowern, pp. 1–44

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.

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Vol. 9 (2015)

 

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On Training in Language Documentation and Capacity Building in Papua New Guinea: A Response to Bird et al.
Joseph D. Brooks, pp. 1–9

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.

Documentary Linguistics and Computational Linguistics: A response to Brooks
Steven Bird, David Chiang, Friedel Frowein, Florian Hanke & Ashish Vaswani, pp. 10–11

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Vol.8 (2014)

In addition to our normal offering of excellent articles, in Volume 8 we have published three sets of themed articles: Language Documentation in the Americas edited by Keren Rice and Bruna Franchetto; The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia edited by John Henderson; How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.

This volume also marks the retirement of our founding editor, Ken Rehg. It was his vision that established LD&C with resources from the NFLRC and University of Hawai’i and it has gone from strength to strength, always with the benefit of his guidance. The editorial team at LD&C wishes him a long and happy retirement

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Vol. 7 (2013)

Articles

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The Sociolinguistic Situation of the Manila Bay Chabacano-Speaking Communities
Marivic Lesho and Eeva Sippola, pp. 1–30

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.

Language Management and Minority Language Maintenance in (Eastern) Indonesia: Strategic Issues
I Wayan Arka, pp. 74–105

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Vol. 6 (2012)

Articles

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Subcontracting Native Speakers in Linguistic Fieldwork: A Case Study of the Ashéninka Perené (Arawak) Research Community from the Peruvian Amazon
Elena I. Mihas, pp. 1–21

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.

Participatory Methods for Language Documentation and Conservation: Building Community Awareness and Engagement
Christina Lai Truong and Lilian Garcez, pp. 22-37

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LD&C, vol. 5 (2011)

Articles

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Integrating Documentation and Formal Teaching of Kari’nja: Documentary Materials as Pedagogical Materials
Racquel-María Yamada, pp. 1–30

In response to the loss of more traditional modes of transmission and decreased contexts of use, members of many endangered language communities have begun revitalization programs that include formal teaching. Linguistic documentation of these languages often occurs independently of revitalization efforts and is largely led by outsider academics. Separation of documentation and revitalization is unnecessary. In fact, the two endeavors can readily support and strengthen each other. This paper describes the process of concurrently creating formal teaching materials and a documentary corpus of Kari’nja, an endangered Cariban language of Suriname. Activities described embody the Community Partnerships Model (CPM), a methodological approach to linguistic fieldwork that is collaborative and speech community-based. The work described herein represents a small portion of an ongoing documentation, description, and revitalization program.

Puana ‘Ia me ka ‘Oko‘a: A Comparative Analysis of Hawaiian Language Pronunciation as Spoken and Sung
Joseph Keola Donaghy, pp. 107-133

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LD&C, vol. 4 (2010)

Articles

Why Revisit Published Data of an Endangered Language with Native Speakers? An Illustration from Cherokee
Durbin Feeling, Christine Armer, Charles Foster, Marcellino Berardo, and Sean O’Neill, pp. 1-21

In this paper we show that much can be gained when speakers of an endangered language team up with linguistic anthropologists to comment on the documentary record of an endangered language. The Cherokee speakers in this study examined published linguistic data of a relatively understudied grammatical construction, Cherokee prepronominals. They commented freely on the form, usage, context, meaning, dialect, and other related aspects of the construction. As a result of this examination, we make the data of Cherokee prepronominals applicable to a wider audience, including other Cherokee speakers, teachers, language learners, and general community members, as well as linguists and anthropologists.

Trust me, I am a Linguist! Building Partnership in the Field
Valérie Guérin and Sébastien Lacrampe, pp. 22-33

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Vol. 3 (2009)

vol. 3, no. 1

Articles

Kaipuleohone, the University of Hawai‘i’s Digital Ethnographic Archive
Emily E. Albarillo and Nick Thieberger, 1-14

The University of Hawai‘i’s Kaipuleohone Digital Ethnographic Archive was created in 2008 as part of the ongoing language documentation initiative of the Department of Linguistics. The archive is a repository for linguistic and ethnographic data gathered by linguists, anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, and others. Over the past year, the archive has grown from idea to reality, due to the hard work of faculty and students, as well as support from inside and outside the Department. This paper will outline the context for digital archiving and provide an overview of the development of Kaipuleohone, examining both concrete and theoretical issues that have been addressed along the way. The creation of the archive has not been problem-free and the archive itself is an ongoing process rather than a finished product. We hope that this paper will be useful to scholars and language workers in other areas who are considering setting up their own digital archive.

Research Models, Community Engagement, and Linguistic Fieldwork: Reflections on Working within Canadian Indigenous Communities
Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins, 15-50

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Vol. 2 (2008)

vol. 2, no. 1

Articles

Static Palatography for Language Fieldwork
Victoria B. Anderson

This article describes how to do static palatography, a way to collect articulatory records about speech sounds that can be used either in the field or in the laboratory. Palatography creates records of the contact pattern of the tongue on the roof of the mouth during an utterance, and when the actual dimensions of the palate are known, can be a rich source of data about articulatory strategies. This paper (1) instructs the reader about the tools and methods needed to collect palatograms (records of contact on the roof of the mouth) and linguograms (records of contact on the tongue); (2) shows how to collect three-dimensional information about the size and shape of a speaker’s hard palate; (3) illustrates how to incorporate these three types of records into life-size, anatomically accurate midsagittal diagrams of speakers’ articulations; and (4) demonstrates how palatograms can be measured (and how linguograms can be categorized) in order to statistically compare articulatory strategies across speech sounds and/or across speakers.

Diglossia, Bilingualism, and the Revitalization of Written Eastern Cham
Marc Brunelle

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Vol. 1 (2007)

vol. 1, no. 1

Articles

Endangered Sound Patterns: Three Perspectives on Theory and Description
Juliette Blevins

In this essay, I highlight the important role of endangered language documentation and description in the study of sound patterns. Three different perspectives are presented: a long view of phonology, from ancient to modern traditions; an areal and genetic view of sound patterns, and their relation to theory and description; and a practical perspective on the importance of research on endangered sound patterns. All perspectives converge on a common theme: the most lasting and influential contributions to the field are those with seamless boundaries between description and analysis.

Solar Power for the Digital Fieldworker
Tom Honeyman and Laura C. Robinson

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