Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/25269

Using listening workshops to integrate phonology into language revitalization: Learner training in Chickasaw pronunciation

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Title: Using listening workshops to integrate phonology into language revitalization: Learner training in Chickasaw pronunciation
Issue Date: 12 Mar 2015
Description: Finding effective ways to bolster the relationship between linguistic documentation and language revitalization and pedagogy is important for endangered languages, especially severely threatened ones. We propose a model where documentation and analysis feed into revitalization and training, extrapolating from experiences with pronunciation training for Chickasaw learners. This research is important because for many languages, the phonological aspects are often underdocumented and teacher training may omit phonetics and phonology. Sounding 'native'-like in pronunciation is often a goal in instruction and learning for endangered language. This goal can be furthered by attention to phonology in both documentation and revitalization.

The Chickasaw language is estimated to have 65 or fewer fluent speakers, all over the age of 60, and a core group of four to five proficient second language learners. The Chickasaw Language Revitalization Program utilizes fluent speakers by drawing on their insights and talents to train new speakers. High priorities for the program are creating new speakers, documenting speech and intuitions from fluent speakers, and ensuring that enrolled citizens of the Chickasaw Nation have access to enrichment language activities via web resources and mobile apps.

We designed listening workshops for Chickasaw learners, using wordlists and narratives. Wordlists teach about phonemes and allophones in the language and phonological variation among speakers. Narratives expose learners to phonological processes like rhythmic lengthening and internal ablaut in verbs, as well as increase exposure to connected speech, fast speech deletion and more.

Concepts like allophones, ablaut, and rhythmic lengthening are indirectly taught in these sessions; we avoid using phonetic and phonological terms. The theoretical concepts drive the design of workshop materials and data collection. Recognizing and acquiring higher level prosody like word rhythm, sentence (and paragraph) rhythm, and ablaut is important to strengthen speaking and listening skills from beginner to intermediate or advanced levels. Second, by having revitalization workshops as one outcome for documentation, the collection and analysis of language materials simultaneously document and teach Chickasaw. Third, fluent speakers are welcome at workshops. Their commentary and additional examples reinforce phonetic and phonological lessons, highlight the reality of language variation, and solidify relationships between learners, speakers and the research team.

Multiple uses for language documentation allows efficient use of resources, whether it is money, time or the contributions of Chickasaw elders. Importantly, our Chickasaw training model is easily extendable to other language communities.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/25269
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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