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Title: Bridging the gap between linguistics and community: Producing materials for language maintenance 
Author: Doty, Christopher
Date: 2009-03-14
Description: The work of linguists, although certainly of value to our scientific understanding of human language function, has often been produced in such a way that it is nearly (or, in many cases, completely) inaccessible to the communities which speak the language or languages in question. This issue takes on special importance in language endangerment situations, where these linguistic documents can often represent the combined knowledge of more speakers than are currently living. Linguists working in these communities are thus in a unique position to either contribute substantially to language maintenance efforts, or to subtract from such efforts by monopolizing time with the few remaining speakers without channeling their knowledge and work back to the community. This talk will specifically address two issues related to linguistic materials in language maintenance and revitalization situations. First, it will present a preliminary framework for how to make newly-produced materials in such a way that they both support the overall mission of linguistics to further our understanding of the structure and function of human language, while also being accessible to and useable by the communities who rely on such materials for their language maintenance efforts. Contrary to the usually-held position that linguistic goals are separate from community needs, this framework will show that the materials can be produced in such a way that they benefit both parties, and in fact make both community and linguistic resources of a higher quality than they would be otherwise. This quality arises through a true collaboration between linguists and speakers, assuring that both parties are involved in establishing project goals, as well as the workplan to meet these goals. The second issue discussed during the talk will be ideas regarding how to ‘transliterate’ previously-produced materials into a more accessible format in light of the framework discussed for new materials. Because linguists in the past were focused almost solely on theoretical and documentary goals, the copious amounts of documentation they have produced is usually in such a form that it does not readily lend itself to language maintenance or revitalization efforts. Further, due to changes in linguistic conventions and theory, these older documents are often difficult to access even for trained linguists. Developing a paradigm for updating and reformatting these materials is thus extremely important for communities who speak endangered languages, as well as the linguistics community at large.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/5010
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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