1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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This site hosts final presentations from the 1st ICLDC held in Hawai'i in March 2009. Not all sessions were recorded, but most were, and some have been withheld from public release at the author's request. You can search for presentations by author or title.

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    1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC) conference program
    (National Foreign Language Resource Center, University of Hawai‘i, 2009) National Foreign Language Resource Center
    It has been a decade since Himmelmann's article on language documentation appeared and focused the field into thinking in terms of creating a lasting record of a language that could be used by speakers as well as by academics. This conference aims to assess what has been achieved in the past decade and what the practice of language documentation within linguistics has been and can be. It has become apparent that there is too much for a linguist alone to achieve and that language documentation requires collaboration. This conference focuses on the theme of collaboration in language documentation and revitalization and will include sessions on interdisciplinary topics.
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    Participatory Action Research and the Experimental Process
    ( 2009-04-13T17:57:08Z) Eggleston, Alyson ; Baina, Mayangna Yulbarangyang ; Benedicto, Elena
    This paper addresses the role of a Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach in the community's reappropriation of an externally-generated linguistic research project. By employing a PAR approach, we show that the indigenous researcher and community can still appropriate the work even if the research initiative has emerged from outside. The Mayangna of Nicaragua had established a linguistic research team in the mid 1990's. They were recently presented with a research initiative to document meronymies and spatial frames of reference as part of a larger project. Though part of this data had already been collected, this new project presented the opportunity to enlarge the database and view it from another perspective. The native researchers accepted that externally initiated proposal. Subsequently, a collaborative team was formed with indigenous and external researchers. The first step of the negotiation of the project involved a reevaluation of the experimental materials to adapt them to more culturally appropriate versions. Practical training on the technical aspects of the project ensued, including four parts: 1) experimental training in administering the tasks, 2) technical practice in video recording 3) the manipulation and uploading of digital media to ELAN, an annotation software tool, and 4) the actual collection and transcription of the data. During the first part of the training, the indigenous researchers performed the successive roles of participant, experimenter, and documenter. In this process, the indigenous researchers were able to evaluate the cultural appropriateness of the task design, and acquired new technological skills Ð building upon what they had acquired in a previous, internally-initiated research project. Through a continued rotation of roles, all native researchers trained collaboratively with each other and with the external researchers to conduct the experimental tasks, record results, and begin to interpret those results. This training culminated with the indigenous researchers all acting as main researchers in applying the corresponding experimental tasks with speakers of their own communities. As a result of applying a PAR approach to this project, we can observe that when native researchers take increasingly more responsibility for a project, even one that emerges external to the research group, they obtain greater directive power over the research process and the results obtained. The indigenous researcher is, thus, in a position to evaluate and adapt the research project, ultimately becoming the experts on the research design, implementation, and interpretation of the data, and consequently reappropriating the process for their own community use and benefit.
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    Collaborative corpus building for minorized languages using wiki-technology. Documenting the Asturian language
    ( 2009-04-08T01:35:16Z) Larusson, Johann ; Saurí, Roser ; Viejo, Xulio
    Eslema is the first project devoted to building a corpus for Asturian. Asturian (or Asturian-Leonese) is the Romance language autochthonous of most of the territory in Asturias, Leon and Zamora provinces (Spain), and the district of Miranda do Douro (Portugal). Its community of speakers is estimated to be around 300,000 people, corresponding to approximately a third of the population of the area where Asturian is spoken. These figures bode ill for the future of the language since Asturian competence is notably reduced among young people, a fact that seriously threatens its generational transmission (Llera Ramo, 2002). Being the corpus of a minorized language, Eslema’s main goals are both (a) documenting Asturian in a systematic way, and (b) helping set the foundation for codifying and fully normalizing it as the language of use in any possible social context. As such, the project is conceived as a general framework for developing several subcorpora, including documents of a varied typology and from different historical periods, representing both written and oral discourse (Author, 2008a). Eslema’s scarcity of funding has prompted an alternative search for much needed resources. As with many Western minorized languages Asturian speakers feel a degree of commitment to the language and its survival. Using this to our advantege, we have developed a wiki-based environment that enables the entire Asturian community to collaboratively collect and annotate texts online, enlarging Eslema at a minimum cost. Wikis are ideally suited for this kind of activity. A wiki is essentially a website enabling non-collocated users to easily asynchronously co-edit and share documents. Wikis are very loosely structured and do not favor a particular type of content or a “tech-savvy” method of manipulating the content. Previous research has developed a platform called the WikiDesignPlatform (WDP) to support different kinds of wiki-based collaborative learning activities (Author, 2008b). The WDP provides a suite of awareness, navigational, and communicative components that can be easily layered on top of, or coupled with, standard wiki features. Using the WDP platform, we are able to quickly engineer an online workspace tailored to the needs of community. Users can easily suggest documents for classification, collectively classify texts, and communicate their work. Using the WDP’s awareness features, users can keep current on the progress of their work and the advancement of individual documents. This paper, presents the collaborative WDP-based environment we have built, its application and results in compiling the Asturian corpus. References: Author (2008a) Eslema. Towards a Corpus for Asturian. In Collaboration: interoperability between people in the creation of language resources for less-resourced languages. A SALTMIL workshop. LREC 2008. Marrakesh. Author (2008b). Supporting and Tracking Collective Cognition in Wikis. In Proceedings of ICLS 2008: International Conference for the Learning Sciences: Vol. 3 (pp. 330-337). The International Society of the Learning Sciences. Llera Ramo, F. (2002). II Estudiu siciollingüísticu d’Asturies. Avance de datos. In Lletres Asturianes, 89, 181–197.
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    Endangered language families
    ( 2009-04-03T20:52:22Z) Whalen, D.H. ; Simons, Gary
    Linguists have been responding to the sharp decline in the number of languages for fifteen years and more now. While individual languages have unique features, language families, by virtue of their shared heritage, often share typologically rare features. The endangerment of entire families, implicit in language loss, has not been explored to date. Here, we use population estimates as an indicator of endangerment of families. Historically, some languages have, seemingly, survived for centuries with only a few thousand speakers. Conversely, a language with a million speakers is endangered if the youngest is 50 years old. The isolation that fostered small languages is an increasingly rare commodity, so small languages are likelier than ever to be endangered. Gordon (2005) reports that 10% of languages have 300,000 or more speakers; Krauss's (1992:7) prediction that this century would "see either the death or the doom of 90% of mankind's languages" would lead us to expect that languages smaller than this would be at risk. More conservative estimates call for a 50% loss (e.g., Crystal 2000:19). There, language families whose largest language has fewer than 7,000 speakers (the median number of speakers; Gordon 2005:15) would be at risk. Using Gordon's (2005) 94 language families, about three-quarters of the world's language families can be classified as endangered. 40% of those language families have their most populous language spoken by fewer than 7,000 speakers; another 33% fall below 300,000 in population. We plan a further analysis using Balthasar and Nichols' (2008) approximately 350 "stocks" (that is, families whose relations can be firmly established by the comparative method). The proportion of endangerment can only increase in those statistics: If we split a family into two stocks, one is bound to have a smaller language as its most populous.Some aspects of language unique to those disappearing families are outlined. Examples are the existence of OVS default word order, elaborated click inventories, grammatical metathesis and obligatory use of evidentials. Renewed efforts at documenting members of those language families seem justified. References BICKEL, BALTHASAR, AND JOHANNA NICHOLS. 2008. The Autotyp genealogical classification. Preprint; published version to appear by September 2008 at http://www.uni-leipzig.de/~autotyp< p>CRYSTAL, DAVID. 2000. Language death. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. GORDON, RAYMOND G., JR. (ed.) 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, TX: SIL International. KRAUSS, MICHAEL. 1992. The world's languages in crisis. Language, 68.4-10.
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    The status of Akuntsú
    ( 2009-04-03T18:07:59Z) Aragon, Carolina
    This paper focuses on the status of the Akuntsu language and its documentation. Akuntsu is a member of the Tupari subfamily of Tupían (Cabral and Author, 2004), together with Makuráp, Tuparí, Mekéns, Wayoró and Kepkiriwat (already extinct). Akuntsú is spoken by only six people, all monolinguals, the remnants of a genocide. Akuntsu people were first contacted by FUNAI only in 1995. After that contact, the Akuntsu people were free to begin their life again in a small part of the land remaining after an intensive deforestation of the region. In this paper I report how the fieldwork was conducted, briefly on the structural properties of the language, and on future plans for Akuntsu. Documentation began only in 2004. First, lexical items of many sorts were collected and digitized in LALI’s database. After some fieldwork trips, the morphology and aspects of the syntactic have been better understood. Fieldwork was undertaken twice each year, to stay as long as possible each time with these monolingual Akuntsu people, learning their language and their culture in daily contact. That work resulted in some papers (Cabral and Author 2005; Author and Carvalho 2008) and in an M.A. thesis about the phonology, morphology, and some aspects of the syntactic of Akuntsu language (Author 2008). According to Rodrigues (1999a), in Brazil there are approximately 220 indigenous groups who speak 180 different languages. Some of these languages are spoken by 20,000 people, while others are spoken by fewer than 20 people. Akuntsú is among the latter group; it is among the languages considered most strongly endangered in Brazil, because by the small number of its speakers and because they are not able to pass the native language on to another generation. It is destined to disappear. There are no marriageable men able to marry with the only woman who is of child-bearing age. So, what can be done to save this language from extinction? Is there any way to avoid this drastic loss to the world? Bibliography Author. 2008. Fonologia e aspectos morfologicos e sintaticos da lingua Akuntsu. Dissertação de Mestrado, Universidade de Brasilia. Author and Fernando O. Carvalho. 2008. Análise acústica das vogais orais da língua Akuntsú. Revista da ABRALIN. Cabral, A. S. A. C and Author. 2004. Relatório de identificação lingüística da língua Akuntsú. Departamento de Índios Isolados, Fundação Nacional do Índio, Brasília. Ms. Cabral, A. S. A.C. and Author 2005. A posição da língua Akuntsú na família lingüística Tuparí. In: Anais do IV Congresso Internacional da ABRALIN, CD-Rom, pg. 1533-1539. Rodrigues, Aryon D. 1999. A Originalidade das línguas indígenas brasileiras. Conferência proferida na inauguração do Laboratório de Línguas Indígenas do Instituto de Letras da Universidade de Brasília, em 8 de julho.
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