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.