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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.
This paper addresses the gaps between language documentation and language revitalization. It is intended for several audiences, including field linguists interested in supporting endangered language sustainability efforts and participants of all kinds in language revitalization courses, programs, and infrastructure. The authors contend that ethnographic methods have transformative potential for contemporary language revitalization practice. Using anthropological tools, linguists and/or speech community members can enrich documentary efforts, mobilize linguistic data for more effective revitalization programs, and improve assessments of language revitalization projects. Beginning with a discussion of ethnographic methods and their connection to existing linguistic practices, this paper moves on to address the impact of language revitalization planning and infrastructure on endangered language use. It then outlines key ethnographic concepts that were identified as particularly useful in two pilot ethnographic methods classes run by the authors in 2015 and 2016, each of which can be operationalized using the basic tenets of participant observation. These concepts present ways of re-evaluating understandings of “communities”; considering language ideologies, ideological clarification, and language socialization; recognizing the nature and implications of different social roles and identities of those involved in revitalization projects; and attuning to genre and intertextuality in the development of resources. The incorporation of both basic ethnographic methodologies and of conceptual frames like these can supplement a field linguist’s or a language revitalization program’s tools to help them better collaborate across differences, support and assess language programs, and understand the obstacles that may exist between them, their collaborators, and sustainable language vitality.
Accessing, managing, and mobilizing an ELAN-based language documentation corpus: the Kwaras and Namuti tools
Gabriela Caballero, Lucien Carroll & Kevin Mach, pp. 63-82
This paper introduces Kwaras and Namuti, two new tools for building, managing, accessing, and mobilizing ELAN-based language documentation corpora. Kwaras integrates WAV files, ELAN annotations, and document metadata into a web-based corpus, allowing immediate access to annotations and recordings. Namuti builds from Kwaras and enables different uses of language documentation products for different audiences and provides links from linguistic analyses to language documentation corpora. The main goal of these new tools is three-fold: (i) to facilitate the use of language documentation in linguistic analysis; (ii) to increase transparency of documentation-based analyses, providing interested users full access to the data on which generalizations are based and contextualization of the projects that generated the data; and (iii) to enable uses of language corpora that may serve the interests of multiple stakeholders, including academic researchers and community members interested in language maintenance and revitalization. We provide a basic overview of how Kwaras and Namuti work, lay out instructions on how to download and use Kwaras, and discuss what uses it currently supports. This article also issues a call for increased collaboration between linguists, community members, language activists, and software developers to further develop these and other similar resources.
The languages of northern Ambrym, Vanuatu: A guide to the deposited materials in ELAR
Michael Franjieh, pp. 83-111
This paper gives a detailed overview of the archived language documentation materials for the two languages spoken in northern Ambrym, Vanuatu: North Ambrym and Fanbyak. I discuss the speakers and the language situation in northern Ambrym to give readers an introduction to the culture of the area. The archived materials encompass five different research projects focusing on the two languages, including documentation and literacy development projects. Data collection, workflows, file-naming conventions, and community involvement are all discussed. The deposited materials are described along with overviews of the different genres, sub-genres, and keywords to enable users to navigate and discover relevant recordings.
Interpreting language use in Ozelonacaxtla, Puebla, Mexico
Rachel McGraw, pp. 112-154
Despite sharing many cultural, historical, and socioeconomic characteristics, Totonac communities have markedly distinct language use patterns and practices. Some communities have adopted the mainstream hegemonic discourse in Mexico that denigrates indigeneity and subsequently abandoned Totonac (Lam 2009). In other communities, such as Ozelonacaxtla, an alternate discourse dominates that values multilingualism, and Totonac is widely spoken by the vast majority of the community. This variation across Totonac communities facing the same broad pressures to shift to Spanish demonstrates that current sociodemographic models of language shift lack significant predictive power. By examining not only sociodemographic factors, but also language ideology, this study seeks to determine whether and how language use in Ozeloancaxtla is qualitatively different in nature from other Totonac communities. Interpreting language use in Ozelonacaxtla is undertaken in the methodology of qualitative linguistic ethnography (Copland & Creese 2015). Results show that Ozelonacaxtla Totonac is currently used in almost all community and home domains; however some threats to continued sustainability are recognized. Three main language ideologies in Ozelonacaxtla are identified: (i) language is an index of identity, (ii) language is important/useful, and (iii) Totonac should not be lost. These main discourses are used by speakers to explain, justify, and contest language use patterns and practices, and significant differences in ideology are found across Totonac communities with contrasting language use. This demonstrates the importance of examining ideology in order to accurately interpret language use and best position potential efforts to support language sustainability, documentation, and revitalization.
maqlaqsyalank hemyeega: Goals and expectations of Klamath-Modoc revitalization
Joseph Dupris, pp. 155-196
This paper documents a collaboration between the Klamath Tribes and the American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI) focused on intra-community capacity-building and early stages of language planning through immersion activities, survey responses, and discussion of intra-community involvement. In December 2016, I facilitated a three-day maqlaqsyals (Klamath-Modoc language) immersion workshop, “maqlaqsyalank hemyeega”, on the Klamath reservation. Each day, immersion lessons focused on developing conversational use of maqlaqsyals between participants. During each lunch hour, participants shared personal goals and priorities regarding successful language revitalization.
Ten tribal community members, including myself, made explicit their interest of sharing knowledge within the larger tribal community. Many of the workshop participants expressed the goal of using the language with their families while some participants expressed that the workshop had already helped them reach a personal goal in three days. Participants also discussed obtaining linguistic resources and establishing domains of language use. Understanding current interests of language in my tribal community provides early steps toward developing the framework of a “good linguist” in the maqlaqsyals revitalization movement.
Drawing on extensive fieldwork, the paper explores the ways of interpreting and translating a shamanic pantsantsi song by a fieldworker and Alto Perené (a.k.a Ashéninka Perené) language workers. The language’s vitality is on a steep downward trajectory. Currently, it is spoken by a few hundred people. Aiming to create a thorough record of shamanic singing for the purpose of Alto Perené preservation, the fieldworker grapples with various stumbling blocks. Among them are the absence of shamans as an institution, the simulative setting of audio and video recordings, the inaccessibility of the text meanings to language consultants, and the non-definitiveness of the translated text. The shamanic language is manipulated in various ways to make it distinct from the profane speech of community members. The manipulative strategies include the singer’s allusions to the predation and conviviality schemes, prosodic repetitions, lexical and morphosyntactic manipulations, and voice masking. The meaning of the pantsantsi text eludes the non-indigenous fieldworker unless she collaborates with highly proficient language speakers, devotes many years to the committed study of the research language, possesses a good knowledge of the culture-specific background, and draws on multiple sources of translation.
Learning and teaching Gumbaynggirr through story: Behind the scenes of professional learning workshops for teachers of an Aboriginal language
Susan Poetsch, Michael Jarrett, & Denise Angelo, pp. 231-252
This study unpacks characteristics of the Gumbaynggirr context and aligns them to the rationale, development, and delivery of a set of workshops designed to support community members teaching their language in schools in New South Wales, Australia. In this community adults learn Gumbaynggirr primarily via material made available through historical and linguistic research. Community language revival endeavours have been in progress for some years and are now further expanding into schools. Supporting school teaching of languages being revived is a complex yet under-reported matter, a gap this paper starts to fill. To this end we detail how the strengths of personnel and language resources at the heart of Gumbaynggirr revival efforts allow story to emerge as a focus for the workshops. The project is a collaboration between local community members and university-based colleagues some distance away. The behind-the-scenes planning for the workshops and associated learning and teaching resources are the basis of the research reported here. Methodologically it responds to a community-determined agenda and applies a translational research intent. That is, it shows how tailored input from academic disciplines can maximize language and culture outcomes for teacher development in a revival context.
Revitalisation of Mangarrayi: Supporting community use of archival audio exemplars for creation of language learning resources
Mark Richards, Caroline Jones, Francesca Merlan, & Jennifer MacRitchie, pp. 253-280
Mangarrayi is a critically endangered language from the western Roper River region in the Northern Territory of Australia. Today the greatest concentration of Mangarrayi people live at Jilkminggan, 135 kilometres south-east of Katherine. Although several older Mangarrayi speakers remain, the language is no longer used in day-to-day communication. However, there is a desire amongst a number of young adult community members to learn some of their heritage language. In this paper we discuss the process undertaken to support these aspirations, focusing on the use of exemplar Mangarrayi utterances sourced from archival documents as a key to developing a basic level of communicative competence in contexts identified as important to learners. This requires a clear understanding of how and when to use the utterances. We propose using a combination of language functions, topics, and sub-topics to clarify usage and support non-specialist community members in using these for learning and teaching Mangarrayi.
Evaluating cross-linguistic forced alignment of conversational data in north Australian Kriol, an under-resourced language
Caroline Jones, Weicong Li, Andre Almeida, & Amit German, pp. 281-299
Speech technology is transforming language documentation; acoustic models trained on “small” languages are now technically feasible. At the same time, forced alignment built for major world languages has matured and now offers ease of use through web interfaces requiring low technical expertise. This paper provides an updated and detailed evaluation of cross-linguistic forced alignment, the approach of using forced aligners untrained on the target language. We compare two options within MAUS (Munich Automatic Segmentation System): language-independent mode vs major world language system (here, Italian) on the one dataset, a comparison that has not previously been reported. The dataset comes from a corpus of adult conversational speech in Kriol, an English-based creole of northern Australia. The results of using MAUS Italian were better than those of using the language-independent mode and those in previous studies: the agreement rate at 20 ms was 72.1% at vowel onset and 57.2% at vowel offset. With completely misaligned tokens excluded, the overall agreement rate rose to 69.2% at 20 ms and over 90% at 50 ms. Most errors in the output SAMPA (Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet) labels were resolvable with simple text replacements. These results offer updated benchmark data for an untrained, late-model forced alignment system.
The Javanese language at risk? Perspectives from an East Java village
Jozina Vander Klok, pp. 300-345
This paper assesses the language vitality of the Javanese variety spoken in Paciran, Lamongan, East Java, Indonesia using UNESCO’s nine factors as the core approach and the EGIDS framework for comparison. In this assessment, I show that it is crucial to take into account (i) the speech level distinction between ngoko ‘Low Javanese’ and krama/basa ‘High Javanese’, (ii) the urban-rural divide, and (iii) socio-political and economic factors relevant to Indonesia. Due to the necessary inclusion of these variables among other factors, I suggest that the EGIDS framework – while still useful – cannot capture the nuances of the linguistic vitality situation of Javanese varieties as well as the UNESCO nine factors approach can. Overall, the results suggest that ngoko is presently in a stable diglossic position with Indonesian, the national language, while krama is at risk of endangerment. In Paciran village, the shift away from krama is towards the local variety of ngoko, compared to Indonesian as the unmarked alternative in urban settings. While a stable result for ngoko as spoken in Paciran village is encouraging, utmost caution must be taken given that negative attitudes towards Javanese varieties have been reported in other rural settings in Java.
Scoring sign language vitality: Adapting a spoken language survey to target the endangerment factors affecting sign languages
Jenny Webster & Josefina Safar, pp. 346-383
This article explores factors affecting the vitality/endangerment levels of sign languages, and how these levels were assessed through an international collaboration using a systematic scoring scheme. This included adapting UNESCO’s Linguistic Vitality and Diversity survey and developing a system for determining endangerment levels based on the responses. Other endangerment scales are briefly explored along with UNESCO’s, and the survey adaptation and systematic scoring processes are explained. The survey needed to be carefully adapted because even though many spoken language procedures can be also used for sign languages, there are additional challenges and characteristics that uniquely affect sign language communities. The article then presents the vitality scores for 15 languages, including both national and village sign languages, and the major factors threatening their vitality. The methodology of scoring based on averages is innovative, as is the workflow between the questionnaire respondents and scoring committee. Such innovations may also be useful for spoken languages. Future efforts might develop best practice models for promoting sign language vitality and compile diachronic data to monitor changes in endangerment status. The findings can also inform policy work to bring about legal recognition, greater communication access, and the protection of deaf signers’ linguistic and cultural identity.
Reexamining the classification of an endangered language: The vitality of Brunca
Aroline E. Seibert Hanson, pp. 384-400
In 2010, linguists declared Boruca (Brúnkajk) or Brunca (brn), an Indigenous language originating in what is now Costa Rica, to be extinct, basing their assessment on the number of living fully fluent native speakers. Since 2010, there has been no written verification of the current state of the language. Brunca classes are offered in the elementary schools as the primary way the language is being maintained, but they have not been taken into account in prior analyses. According to published research from almost two decades ago, Brunca appears to be losing ground. This has led to its designation as “critically endangered” or “dormant” by most established scales. In order to determine the actual status of the language in the community, we conducted participant observations in the Brunca classes and a series of interviews with the Boruca Culture Council, community elders, and a linguist currently involved in revitalization efforts elsewhere in Costa Rica. Through the present analysis of local stakeholders’ responses, data emerged on truncated but existent efforts to bring back the language. Thus, the present study is at the cutting edge of trying to define what should be measured to determine language vitality and progress in revitalization.
Ḵ̓a̱ḵ̓otł̓atła̱no’x̱w x̱a ḵ̓waḵ̓wax̱’mas: Documenting and reclaiming plant names and words in Kwak̓wala on Canada’s west coast
Andrea Lyall, Harry Nelson, Daisy Rosenblum, & Mark Turin, pp. 401-425
This paper describes the process and outcomes of a project focused on community-centred reclamation of plant-based knowledge in the Kwak̓wala language from previously published materials as well as new documentation with Kwak̓wala-speaking Elders. The paper describes our research process resulting in the documentation of 300 plant word names and phrases, starting with 135 plants with names and words in Kwak̓wala that had been documented between the late 19th and early 20th century by Franz Boas and George Hunt, subsequently added to and enriched by community members and academics. An audio-visual dictionary of these plant names and associated phrases is now available through the FirstVoices web portal (http://bit.ly/LDC_FirstVoices).
The corresponding author initiated the work and then further developed the research in collaboration with Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw fluent speakers, linguists, biologists, and the U’mista Cultural Society. The project has stimulated interest among community members who provided valuable feedback on the different ways in which this research can be further accessed and then delivered. The paper concludes with some structured reflections on how to proceed in community-led research projects such as this. The authors see further opportunity for continued cross-disciplinary and community-based research.
Recording to revitalize: Language teachers and documentation design
Allison Taylor-Adams, pp. 426-445
As language communities lose their last first-language speakers, many turn to language teachers to carry on the important work of language maintenance and revival. How can we design documentation projects that will be useful for these future language users? This paper outlines findings from interviews conducted with ten teachers of Native languages of the Pacific Northwest. These teachers identified specific, concrete areas where language documentation has helped them in their revitalization work, and areas where there are noticeable and often frustrating gaps. Their reflections and observations lead to several concrete suggestions for what linguists can add to their documentation efforts, and also underscore the potential richness of a project designed with teachers in mind. Collaboration with future language revitalizers could be greatly beneficial both to language communities and to linguists.
Global Survey of Revitalization Efforts: A mixed methods approach to understanding language revitalization practices
Gabriela Pérez Báez, Rachel Vogel, & Uia Patolo, pp. 446-513
The world’s linguistic diversity, estimated at over 7,000 languages, is declining rapidly. As awareness about this has increased, so have responses from a number of stakeholders. In this study we present the results of the Global Survey of Revitalization Efforts carried out by a mixed methods approach and comparative analysis of revitalization efforts worldwide. The Survey included 30 questions, was administered online in 7 languages, and documented 245 revitalization efforts yielding some 40,000 bits of data. In this study, we report on frequency counts and show, among other findings, that revitalization efforts are heavily focused on language teaching, perhaps over intergenerational transmission of a language, and rely heavily on community involvement although do not only involve language community members exclusively. The data also show that support for language revitalization in the way of funding, as well as endorsement, is critical to revitalization efforts. This study also makes evident the social, cultural, political, and geographic gaps in what we know about revitalization worldwide. We hope that this study will strengthen broad interest and commitment to studying, understanding, and supporting language revitalization as an integral aspect of the history of human language in the 21st century.
Language vitality assessment of Deori: An endangered language
Prarthana Acharyya & Shakuntala Mahanta, pp. 514-544
Deori, a Tibeto-Burman language, is an “endangered” language and is described as a language on the verge of its extinction. Recent research on Deori phonetics and phonology has shown loss of distinct pitch realization and identification in the speech of older as well as younger generation speakers. The difference in production and perception of tonal categories among the speakers of the younger age group led to an examination of language vitality of Deori. To substantiate the analyses of inter-generational language change, this study takes into account inter-generational perceptions on language use and its robustness. The findings of this study show that the language status of Deori is not completely bleak, and there is a sense of optimism for the future of the language among speakers irrespective of age. The findings also show that the language suffers from lack of support in the public domain, lack of teachers to teach Deori as a subject in schools, and absence of exposure in new media. If these problems are rectified, then there is hope of survival for Deori, but only with sustained and conscious efforts aimed at revitalizing.
Public access to research data in language documentation: Challenges and possible strategies
Mandana Seyfeddinipur, Felix Ameka, Lissant Bolton, Jonathan Blumtritt, Brian Carpenter, Hilaria Cruz, Sebastian Drude, Patience L. Epps, Vera Ferreira, Ana Vilacy Galucio, Brigit Hellwig, Oliver Hinte, Gary Holton, Dagmar Jung, Irmgarda Kasinskaite Buddeberg, Manfred Krifka, Susan Kung, Miyuki Monroig, Ayu’nwi Ngwabe Neba, Sebastian Nordhoff, Brigitte Pakendorf, Kilu von Prince, Felix Rau, Keren Rice, Michael Riessler, Vera Szoelloesi Brenig, Nick Thieberger, Paul Trilsbeek, Hein van der Voort, & Tony Woodbury, pp. 545-563
The Open Access Movement promotes free and unfettered access to research publications and, increasingly, to the primary data which underly those publications. As the field of documentary linguistics seeks to record and preserve culturally and linguistically relevant materials, the question of how openly accessible these materials should be becomes increasingly important. This paper aims to guide researchers and other stakeholders in finding an appropriate balance between accessibility and confidentiality of data, addressing community questions and legal, institutional, and intellectual issues that pose challenges to accessible data.
Technology is by no means the most important channel to maintain a language, but it is an effective mode to communicate and interact using the language. As the lives of Khroskyabs speakers continue to be modernized, fewer and fewer aspects of those lives will take place in Khroskyabs. Furthermore, Khroskyabs speakers tend to express negative attitudes towards their language, especially in comparison to the dominant national language – Mandarin – and the local prestige language – Tibetan. The Mothertongue Film on Mobile Social Media project aims to expand the Khroskyabs language into a new domain amongst its speakers by creating a series of videos in the language and sharing them on social media-WeChat. The emerging use of social media such as WeChat provides a platform for language use in the contemporary context for unrecognized and under-resourced languages like Khroskyabs. This project aimed to address these issues, of domain exclusion and negative attitudes, through the production of mobile digital media that can be freely and conveniently shared via the social media platform WeChat for consumption of people in the Khroskyabs-speaking community.
Language names and nonlinguists: A response to Haspelmath
Matthew S. Dryer, pp. 580-585
Haspelmath (2017) proposes a set of principles governing language names. I discuss various issues with his proposals centering around the fact that Haspelmath does not give sufficient consideration for the need for linguists to consider the use of names by nonlinguists in choosing names.
Domain change and ethnolinguistic vitality: Evidence from the fishing lexicon of Loloan Malay
I Gusti Ayu Gde Sosiowati, I Wayan Arka, I Nyoman Aryawibawa, & Ni Made Ayu Widiastuti, pp. 586-617
This paper reports a study on the vitality of the fishing lexicon in Loloan Malay. The study was aimed at finding the nature and pattern of domain change, its intergenerational transmission, and its significance for overall ethnolinguistic vitality. The data were collected from a representative group of fishermen through tests that were complemented by interviews. A simple quantitative analysis was undertaken to discover patterns of change, and the ethnographic method was also used to augment the analysis. This study contributes to the sociolinguistic research on language vitality, contact-induced change, and the endangerment of minority languages. The findings reveal a surprising paradox. Although it is still considered to have high cultural importance, the fishing domain is critically endangered. It is argued that the low vitality of the fishing domain does not affect the vitality of the Loloan Malay language in general. The reason is that the linguistic ideology that underpins the group identity of Loloan Malay at the macro-societal level is not tied to fishing, but rather, to religion. This paper also discusses the complexity of the variables involved in domain change, particularly the extra-linguistic factors that contribute to the changes in the fishing domain due to modern socio-economic and technological progress.
Language documentation in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquakes: A guide to two archives and a web exhibit
Kristine Hildebrandt, Tanner Burge-Buckley, & Jacob Sebok, pp. 618-651
We describe two institutionally related archives and an online exhibit representing a set of Tibeto-Burman languages of Nepal. These archives and exhibit were built to house materials resulting from documentation of twelve Tibeto-Burman languages in the aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. This account includes a detailed discussion of the different materials recorded, and how they were prepared for the collections. This account also provides a comparison of the two different types of archives, the different but complementary functions they serve, and a discussion of the role that online exhibits can play in the context of language documentation archives.