Archive for the ‘conferences’ Category

Call for papers: PARADISEC

19 May 2013

PARADISEC, the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures, has put out its second call for papers for its conference to be held 2-3 December 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. Get the details here.

Findings from Annatuinniniq Uqausittinik Conference

7 May 2013

The Annatuinniniq Uqausittinik Conference was held in Kangiqsujuaq, Canada, from 16 to 18 April.

Focused on Inuktitut (ike), the conference discussed the need for an action plan to save Inuktitut. There was also a youth panel discussion that revealed a generational gap, such as youth who want modern terminology and elders who have trouble understanding the English vocabulary and grammar that youth use when speaking Inuktitut.

Among the findings of the conference:

  • An Inuktitut language authority is needed,
  • More interactions between youth and elders are needed, and
  • More training is needed for teachers

See “Nunavik conference seeks action plan to save Inuktitut” for more details and the Avataq Cultural Institute Facebook page for Inuit culture and language.

sbuusaɫ sqʷuʔalikʷ dxʷʔal ti dxʷləšucid – 3

23 April 2013

In addition to the talks at the Fourth Annual Lushootseed Language Conference already mentioned, there were two other workshops:

  1. “Cordage-Making: Transforming Plants into Bracelets, Necklaces, or Rope” given by Melinda West, and 
  2. “Language Revitalization: Retaining tradition and culture in contemporary times” given by Chad Uran and Jamie Valadez

The conference also featured a corner with Lushootseed (lut) materials for sale, some of which were given away in a raffle.

Separately, attendees brought copies of the mammoth Klallam Dictionary and Sahaptin Dictionary (“First Klallam language dictionary revives ancient Native American tongue,” see also Klallam (clm); “Yakama Elder Keeps Her Native Language Alive“), incredible works of lexicography. Also found among the attendees was “Tiinmamí Tɨmnanáxt,” (Legends of the Sahaptin Speaking People), a collection of legends on CD each told in Sahaptin (yak) and English.

One other treat for conference-goers was a tumbler with “dxʷləšúcid” (Lushootseed) printed prominently in the proper Lushootseed letters, a must-have for coffee-loving Puget Sounders and other linguaphiles. As far as I know, this is a collector’s item only, unavailable anywhere, but perhaps you can convince Lushootseed Research to sell you one if any are left in stock!

dxʷləšúcid tumbler

sbuusaɫ sqʷuʔalikʷ dxʷʔal ti dxʷləšucid – 1

23 April 2013

sbuusaɫ sqʷuʔalikʷ dxʷʔal ti dxʷləšucid, the Fourth Annual Lushootseed Language Conference, was held Saturday at Seattle University. Titled “šəqild čeɫ ti dxʷsdigʷid ʔi ti xʷdikʷ” (Honoring the Teachers and the Teachings), the conference had something for everyone: language, culture, community, revitalization, technology and more.

A special highlight of the conference was keynote speaker Virginia Beavert, who included in her talk her personal experiences that involved learning Lushootseed (lut) after running away from her Sahaptin-speaking home. Among her advice was that when approaching an elder to get language information:

  1. Say up front what you will do with the information
  2. Give the elder time to consider the request
  3. Explain the importance of developing teaching materials.

Lushootseed teachers Michelle Myles and Natosha Gobin discussed a literary technique used in Lushootseed storytelling along with a recounting of the history of the story “Lady Louse.” They gave out a wonderful booklet that includes photographs of Elizabeth “Lizzie” Krise, a DVD of “Lady Louse” and flash cards for teaching the story.

John La Pointe discussed ties between Puget Salish culture and Christianity, weaving in his personal background.

Zalmai ʔəswəli Zahir discussed how to create a space from which a language can be revitalized.

Deryle Lonsdale discussed the online Lushootseed Dictionary project. It is expected to be available in a few months.

Dave Sienko noted how despite tremendous processing power, smartphones lack full Unicode implementation and so have trouble with the Lushootseed alphabet. As a workaround, the Puyallup Tribe has released Texting Twulshootseed and other apps, which enables the iPhone to text in Lushootseed.

Russell Hugo discussed Moodle, open-source software for educators, as one way to create a community of language learners.

Lushootseed texts are available from Lushootseed Research. Although not currently listed, there are CDs also available.

Pāli Revival?

10 September 2011

The Tipiṭaka (“three baskets”) or Pāli Canon is the oldest complete Buddhist canon. Written down just over two thousand years ago in Pāli (pli), the Tipiṭaka is the standard scriptures for Theravada Buddhism.

Although Pāli is primarily used for access to religious texts, revitalization movements have been around since the nineteenth century.

According to “When a dead language came alive after almost a century,” those movements continue on and Pāli was used for the first three sessions of the International Pali Conference 2011, hosted on September 1 by the University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

The “Pali Text Society’s Pali-English Dictionary” can be searched at Digital Dictionaries of South Asia. Lessons in Pāli with a dictionary are available at On-Line Pali Course.

June calendar

30 May 2011

From the June calendar:

13-24 – US – Breath of Life Archival Institute for Indigenous Languages (2011)
20-July 1 – US – NILI Summer Institute 2011
27-29 – Canada – 2011 Athabaskan Languages Conference

It appears that the National Native Language Revitalization Summit will not be taking place this year.

Update: the summit will be taking place. See “National Native Language Revitalization Summit on June 22” on this blog.

Athabaskan Languages Conference program available

25 May 2011

The  Athabaskan Languages Conference will be held in Whitehorse, Canada, from June 27 to 29 at the High Country Inn. The program is now available.

The registration fee has not been announced.

L’nui’sultinej Conference next week in Canada

13 May 2011

The eighth L’nui’sultinej Conference will be held May 18-20 in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada at St. Francis Xavier University.

The focus of the conference is Mi’kmaq (mic), a language spoken in eastern Canada and US.

According to “Mi’kmaw Language Conference” on the St. Francis Xavier University website, this year’s theme is “What’s new? What’s exciting?”

Up to six sessions will be held simultaneously, divided into themes: immersion, core language programs, strategies and approaches, elders circle, language and spirituality, and sharing knowledge.

Menik strategies for maintaining language

7 May 2011

Located in West Africa, Senegal is home to 39 languages according to the Ethnologue. English speakers who recall the book “Roots” or Sinéad O’Connor‘s songs might recognize the language Mandinka (mnk), and the language Wolof (wol) might be familiar to some as well. Otherwise, French is the only Senegalese language likely familiar to most English speakers.

Among the many offerings at the upcoming 42nd Annual Conference on African Linguistics is a poster session on Menik or Bedik (tnr). According to the abstract “Menik: an endangered language between two big languages,” the Menik people live among two other languages: the macrolanguage Peul or Fula (ful), which probably refers to Pulaar (fuc), and Malinké (noted as Mandinka above).

The abstract notes two levels of language use of the Menik people:

  • That of Peul and Malinké alongside Menik
  • That of French for classrooms and government
The Menik have adopted three strategies to maintain their language:
  • Obliging/encouraging young speakers to use Menik in the village
  • The use of Menik in sacred festivals
  • The threat of expulsion from the community
ACAL 2011 will be held June 10 to 12, 2011, in Maryland, US, near Washington, DC.
A poster session is a venue such as a room where presenters display research materials and are generally present to discuss their work with people walking through the venue.

Promoting Klingon

1 May 2011

As per the announcement “qep’a’ wa’maH chorghDIch,” the eighteenth annual meeting of the non-profit Klingon Language Institute will meet in Reno, Nevada, US from August 14 to 18, 2011.

Klingon (tlh) is a conlang, or constructed language, first created for “Star Trek: the Motion Picture” by actor James Doohan (Scotty) and subsequently developed for other “Star Trek” movies and shows by Marc Okrand. Other examples of constructed languages are Esperanto (epo) and Ido (ido). Esperanto is the only constructed language listed in the current version of the Ethnologue.

Readers may wonder whether a fantasy language such as Klingon has a place on this blog. There are aspects of the Klingon movement that relate to endangered languages and may be of interest to language planners and learners.

Klingon has no native speakers—though linguist d’Armond Speers spoke exclusively to his son in Klingon until he was three, his son does not speak the language today—and therefore Klingon resembles natural languages that are sleeping (also referred to as being dormant or extinct). In such situations, revitalizers rely on written or recorded materials to resuscitate the language into a spoken, living form.

Probably the most common written materials of endangered and dormant languages are Bibles and word lists or dictionaries. These are critical for language revitalization, even in cases where there are native speakers. For Klingon, canonical or official references include the books “The Klingon Dictionary (Star Trek),”  “The Klingon Way: A Warrior’s Guide (Star Trek: The Klingon Book of Virtues)” and “Klingon for the Galactic Traveler (Star Trek)” as well as audio tapes and other materials.

In many cases, a language may be spoken over a large area, such as in multiple villages, and the language varieties may differ. If each variety of language is considered valid, it is difficult to construct learning materials and dictionaries, as so many variants must be included. Doing so may also lead to confusion among learners. On the other side of the coin, selecting one variety may cause discord among those whose variety is not chosen.

Whether a word or form is considered official is referred to as canonicity. In the case of Klingon, this is an important concept. All languages change over time, and the degree to which people may coin new phrases is not set in stone. For now, anyway, adherence to the Klingon canons is a major concern in the Klingon community (culture).

Klingon is remarkable in the dedication of devotees. Its appeal to people may be of reference to language planners. Why does an invented conlang with no economic value and nearly no communicative use continue to attract learners when so many natural languages struggle with dwindling numbers? Surely, the shock value and quirky nature of learning Klingon are factors in Klingon’s popularity. The continuing popularity of “Star Trek” is doubtlessly a factor as well.

Also, the warrior culture of Klingons, perhaps tapping into the popularity of Japanese samurai, may be attractive in a way similar to how fencing, sword fighting and jousting are popular among Renaissance fair devotees. The brusque nature of Klingons—the expression “nuqneH” for hello literally means “What do you want?”—gives Klingon another unique characteristic.

A mailing list provides a way for people interested in Klingon to interact and ask questions. Since January 1, there have been a little over 300 messages on the list, averaging out to about 900 messages a year. Also, members of the Klingon Language Institute can download Klingon fonts as well as gain access to members-only materials about Klingon. (Membership is only USD 10 per year.)

Facebook has pages on Klingons and a page was started with the goal of getting Facebook to add Klingon as one of the Facebook interface languages. The request was granted, and nearly 7000 phrases have been translated. If you have a Facebook account (membership is free), go to account settings > language and select “tlhIngan Hol” for a Klingon interface. (Beware: Make sure you can set your language back again!) You can also help translate the remaining 32,000 phrases at the translation project page.

People are also tweeting in Klingon. Daily Klingon Word is active and klingons provides a list of Klingon tweeters.

Another aspect of Klingon that makes it attractive is that it has a literature. Translating children’s stories and other literature into an endangered language may provide a means of drawing people to the language. “Winnie Ille Pu (Latin Edition)” (the Latin version of “Winnie the Pooh”) and “Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Latin edition)” (the first “Harry Potter” book) are just two examples. Similarly, “Gilgamesh:: A Klingon Translation” (Gilgamesh) and “The Klingon Hamlet” are available, making it enjoyable to learn Klingon while reading something familiar.

And then is the conference, mentioned at the start of this post. Introductory lessons will be provided and Klingon grammarians will be on hand to assist those learning the language. Other activities include socializing, language games and performances.

Together, these activities and resources provide a community and an infrastructure for learning and using Klingon in a fun way. Perhaps some of these ideas may be of help in the revitalization of natural languages.

See also “taH pagh taHbe‘” on Talking Alaska on Klingon and endangered languages.