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Many entryways: Creating resources to support many uses of a dormant language

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Item Summary

Title: Many entryways: Creating resources to support many uses of a dormant language
Authors: O'Connor, Catherine
Paquette, Elodie
Ko, Edwin
Rimdzius, Ethan
Grillo, Elizabeth
Issue Date: 12 Mar 2015
Description: A common but challenging language revitalization scenario features a language with no fluent speakers, and a body of recordings of the last fluent speakers. Fortunately, electronic tools are increasingly available to create resources that will give community members access to the sound recordings that are critical for revitalization. But how should such resources be structured? Community members may have different goals for reclaiming and revitalizing the language. Some seek only to know key words for cultural terms, or everyday expressions they can share with friends. Others want to hear recordings of stories, with accessible translations. Finally, some are energized to make a commitment to learning and then teaching the language. Ideally, an on-line resource featuring edited recordings could support all of these goals.

Using a corpus of soundfiles of Northern Pomo, a dormant language of California, we are constructing a set of on-line resources designed to support many learner goals. After consultations with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers of three Rancherias, teachers at a Rancheria Head Start program, and other community members, we constructed a set of materials containing the following components, available on mobile devices: an introductory language app, and a website containing pages addressing Sounds and Letters, Everyday Expressions, Talking Dictionary, Phrasicon, Basic Sentence Structures, and Stories and Texts.

Sounds and Letters contains a matrix of all phonemes with soundfiles for each. Tabs to Consonant and Vowel pages provide brief videos comparing and contrasting Northern Pomo sounds, designed to introduce the learner to unfamiliar sounds and letter symbols. The Everyday Expressions page contains 90-second videos teaching common phrases and sentences. The videos break down these examples in order to provide non-technical introductions to basic vocabulary, morphology, and syntax, while encouraging the learner to repeat the phrases. The Talking Dictionary and Phrasicon are connected, so that clicking a link in a dictionary entry brings the learner to a page of phrases and sentences containing that lexical item. The Stories and Texts page contains videos with spoken texts and written translations, and printable versions of text plus translation.

We will describe and provide a rationale for each component, along with some of the basic design choices that we think will make it useful for learners with different goals. (A companion abstract concerns making templates and codes available to those wishing to construct a similar tool for other languages.) Finally, we hope to present responses to the tool from community members.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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