Archive for the ‘Basque (eus)’ Category

International Linguistics Olympiad in Ljubljana

27 July 2012

From 29 July to 4 August, the International Linguistics Olympiad will be held in Slovenia, the tenth of this annual competition for secondary school students. With roots going back to 1965 in Moscow, the contest involves competitors from at least 12 countries according to this year’s website.

Also called the International Olympiad in Linguistics, the contest features linguistics problems from living and dead languages. No specific knowledge of the language is needed, but contestants must be able to use their powers of analysis and reasoning to come up with the correct answer.

Sample problems are provided, and include such languages as Aymara (aym), Basque (eus), Guarani (gug), Lalana Chinantec (cnl) and Manam (mva).

Last year’s problems included one on Menominee (mez). To learn about the preparations of the Australian team, read “It may be semantics, but linguistics can be a team event.”

Two Tales of Endangered Language Passion

25 March 2011

As reported in Passion for Preservation, Sadaf Munshi travels from Texas to remote regions of Pakistan every chance she gets, somewhat like Indy Jones to document Burushaski (bsk). Battling floods, closed roads and cultural attitudes against women speaking with men, she documents words, songs and dances.

Burushaski is a language isolate, which means it is not related to any other known language. Most languages are related to other languages. English, for example, is related to the Frisian languages (family) and Dutch as well as to German. Spanish is related to French and Italian. Basque (eus) in Spain and France and Ainu (ain) in northern Japan have not been demonstrated as being related to other languages and so are isolates.

In addition to being an isolate, Burushaski is almost completely unwritten. As Munshi has discovered, words in Burushaski are beginning to be replaced with Urdu words, and there is a concern that if the language is not documented, the language will be absorbed and disappear.

With Munshi’s work, the language will be written and documented for posterity.

The other tale of endangered language passion is that of a teenager, Alexa Little, who lives in a township in Pennsylvania, US. As told in “Shaler teen’s love of languages began with hieroglyphics,” Little became interested in ancient languages as a young child. In high school, she won a scholarship by developing an efficient method for typing Queche (probably Quechua (que)).

When Shaler read about the World Oral Literature Project to document endangered languages, she contacted the director who suggested she raise money to raise awareness. Earning more than USD 200, she then went on to organize a symposium that included linguistic experts from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Cambridge. Students from other high schools attended the event as well.

Shaler plans to become a linguist. It seems she has a bright future in front of her!

Indigenous Language Tweets – Web 2.0 Communication

21 March 2011

In July 2006, Twitter launched its short message service (SMS), allowing people to create an account and send short messages that are transmitted to mobile phones and displayed on the Twitter site.

Celebrities, for example, send out short messages or tweets announcing their daily and special doings. Political organizations and environmental groups send out updates, and sports teams send out the latest on their players. At Twitter, a short message is known as a “tweet.”

This sort of information-sharing technology is sometimes referred to as Web 2.0, to indicate it is a step beyond the conventional Internet technologies of web pages and e-mail.

While Twitter is currently crowdsourcing (asking for volunteers) to translate its page to other languages, currently the interface is available in English and seven other major languages, and the tweets are overwhelmingly in such major languages.

People seeking information updates on a topic can go to the Twitter site and search for keywords to find someone who tweets on a subject they like. It can be difficult, however, to find tweets in lesser-used languages.

To address this issue, Kevin Scannell has set up Indigenous Tweets as a place to find people who tweet in your language. The home page shows the languages tracked—currently 39, up from the initial 35—as well as other information such as how many users tweet in each language and how many  tweets have been sent out.

To use Indigenous Tweets, click on a language to see the top tweeters in that language (up to 500), then click on a tweeter to go to Twitter.com and see that person’s tweet feed. From there, you can sign up to the feed if interested. Both Twitter and Indigenous Tweets are free services.

As a companion to Indigenous Tweets, Scannell has set up a blog with the same name, Indigenous Tweets (though at a different address).

Quick facts:

  • The total number of tweets tracked so far in the 39 languages offered on Indigenous Tweets exceeds 1.2 million.
  • The top volume language is Kreyòl Ayisyen or Haitian Creole (hat) at nearly 315,000 tweets.
  • Although less in volume, Euskara or Basque (eus) has more tweeters than any other language at 2069.
  • Among the languages on Indigenous Tweets is Cornish (kew), a language that fell asleep in England in the eighteenth century and began to be revived at the beginning of the twentieth. It now has L1 or native speakers.
  • Anishinaabemowin or Ojibwe (oji) is represented with 15 tweeters and Sámegiella or Sami (family) with 58.

US Conferences and Events

16 March 2011

There are three conferences coming up in the US:

A. The Protection of Cultural Diversity: Language Rights and Legal Pluralism

B. 18th Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium

C. NILI Summer Institute 2011

  • June 20-July 1
  • University of Oregon – Eugene, OR, US
  • Scholarship deadline: April 18
  • Fee: USD 1550 (not including housing)
  • Courses to include:
  1. Northwest languages, intermediate linguistics;
  2. Chinuk Wawa or Chinook Jargon (chn), Sahaptin (family), Lushootseed (lut), Tolowa (tol);
  3. Teaching methods; materials developments

See also the calendar page and the events page, listed at the top of this page. To have your conference posted, make a comment here or send an e-mail to wakablogger {the at symbol} gmail.com.