Archive for the ‘documentation’ Category

Soillse researcher seeks Gaelic speakers

26 April 2013

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (wiki) is a university offering undergraduate and graduate degrees using Scottish Gaelic (gla) as the language of instruction. Located on the Isle of Skye in the Hebrides, Sabhal Mòr Ostaig was founded in 1971 and hosts Soillse, a research network for the maintenance and revitalization of Gaelic.

As a Soillse researcher, Cassie Smith-Christmas is tracing the path of the language as it developed during the 1940s and 50s, when migration occurred due to evacuation and boarding-out. She is seeking people who can speak with her about the language aspects of that period. To find out more about her project and for her contact information, see “Global Gaelic explored through evacuee experiences.”

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App for collecting oral literature

24 April 2013

If you have enough of a source language and accompanying translation, you can piece back together vital parts of a language if a time comes when it is no longer spoken. Collecting that data can be hard work, however.

To address the difficulties of collecting oral language, Language Preservation 2.0 (lp20) has created Aikuma, a free app for Android smartphones that linguists and community members themselves can use to record language with a function to stop along the way and provide a translation.

Read more about the app, and about Tembé/Tenetehára (tqb) and Usarufa (usa), in the article “Recording the world’s vanishing voices.”

Canadian Conservative government pro-language

3 May 2011

Yesterday, the Conservative Party of Canada won a majority government for the first time in its eight years of existence.

James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Status of Women, announced today that funding for the CBC will be maintained at the current level or increased. He said, “[The CBC] is essential for respect for all of our official languages and all of the regions of the country — broadcasting in aboriginal languages in the North.”

The CBC is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a public television and radio broadcaster. Among its services is CBC North, which operates in the Canadian Arctic. Their programs include broadcasts in:

CBC Radio 3 provides free music, with a category for Aboriginal artists, though a casual glance at a few pages revealed only music in English. The CBC also has a bilingual program titled “Legends,” recording traditional oral stories.

Project to document Dusner in the news

23 April 2011

According to “Researchers race to record dying language,” there are three speakers of Dusner (dsn), all 60 or older. They live in a village on the Indonesian province of West Papua, which along with Papua makes up the left portion of the island New Guinea. (Confusingly, the right portion of the island is the country Papua New Guinea.)

The village is located in Fak-Fak Regency (area). The language location is noted in the West Papua tribes map. It is on the right side, above where it says “East Papua.”

According to the Ethnologue, there were six speakers as of 1978. Gapping the 1978 record and this new report, Christopher Moseley’s “Encyclopedia of the world’s endangered languages” notes in 2007 that Dusner was likely extinct.

Fortunately, it is not. With time running out, researchers Mary Dalrymple and Suriel Mofu from the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology & Phonetics at Oxford University are working to document the language. Under the name “Multimodal language documentation for Dusner, an endangered language of Papua,” the project began in October 2010 and is to last 14 months and is a collaboration with the State University of Papua and Cenderawasih University. The project will produce:

  1. digital video recordings, including culturally important stories and conversations;
  2. transcriptions, with free English and Indonesian translations, aligned with the video files;
  3. linguistically annotated texts in two forms;
  4. a glossary of basic words and affixes; and
  5. a grammar sketch.
The Dusner speakers are Emma Imburi (85), Enos Yoweni (60) and Anna Imburi (60).

From the blogosphere

19 April 2011

From Endangered Languages Media Watch: Post “Elar’s David Nathan writes for The Mark” — “We’ve come a long way in documenting the 90 per cent of languages facing extinction, but rescuing them is another story.”

From Talking Alaska: Post “Commission on Alaska Native Languages” — Meeting tomorrow in Anchorage.

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!

News in Brief: Language Surveys, Australia and the Torres Strait Languages, Yiddish Documentation

3 March 2011

A survey project is implementing two surveys on endangered languages, one concerning language and technology, the other about everyday use. The project appears to be a collaboration between professors at the Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne and the Universidad de Puerto Rico. According to the initial page, the survey will be kept online indefinitely, with the results added to a website.

David Nathan has a site filled with resources for the languages of Australia and Torres Strait. Although some links are outdated, one leads to the AusAnthrop Australian Aboriginal tribal database, which is filled with information, including alternative names for peoples of Australia. Another leads to the Federation of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Languages & Culture, with lots of information and resources. Another link leads to music in Gumatj (gnn) on the Yothu Yindi website. Lots to explore here!

In addition to many other materials, EYDES or Evidence of Yiddish (yid) Documented in European Societies has a collection of some 6000 hours of tape recordings as part of their Language and Culture Atlas of Ashkenazic Jewry. The project also has a Yiddish course (taught in German).