LD&C Special Publication No. 9: Language Documentation and Conservation in Europe

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    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016-02) Ferreira, Vera ; Bouda, Peter
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    Brief considerations about language policy: An European assessment
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016-02) Carvalho Vicente, Paulo ; Carvalho Vicente, Francisco
    The rising of language policy worldwide is a consequence of a globalized world and the openness of borders. Even countries with a relative cultural homogeneity face nowadays new challenges regarding massive migration fluxes and the results of growing awareness for endangered languages and cultures, notably in Europe. This is being noticed around the Old Continent where diversity proves to be a distinct value since ever. In this paper we reflect on the scope of cultural identity and multilingualism to shed new light on language policy and consequently refresh our understanding of a key policy, which is already a decisive public policy for the European peoples.
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    Bridging divides: A proposal for integrating the teaching, research and revitalization of Nahuatl
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016-02) Olko, Justyna ; Sullivan, John
    This paper discusses major historical, cultural, linguistic, social and institutional factors contributing to the shift and endangerment of the Nahuatl language in Mexico. As a practical proposal, we discuss our strategy for its revitalization, as well as a series of projects and activities we have been carrying out for the last several years. Crucial to this approach are several complementary elements: interdisciplinary research, including documentary work, as well as investigation of both the historical and the present state of Nahuatl language and culture; integration of both Western and native-speaking indigenous researchers as equal partners and the provision of space for indigenous methodologies; creation of teaching programs for native and non-native speakers oriented toward the preparation of language materials; and close collaboration with indigenous communities in developing community-based programs. The operability of this strategy will depend greatly on our ability to foster collaboration across academic, social, and ideological boundaries, to integrate theory, methodology and program implementation, and to efficiently combine grass- roots and top-down approaches. An important aim is to restore the culture of literacy in Nahuatl through our monolingual Totlahtol series, publishing works from all variants of the language and encompassing all genres of writing. We also strive to strengthen the historical and cultural identity of native speakers by facilitating their access to the alphabetical texts written by their ancestors during the colonial era.
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    The first Mirandese text-to-speech system 
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016-02) Ferreira, José Pedro ; Chesi, Cristiano ; Baldewijns, Daan ; Braga, Daniela ; Dias, Miguel ; Correia, Margarita
    This paper describes the creation of base NLP resources and tools for an under-resourced minority language spoken in Portugal, Mirandese, in the context of the generation of a text-to-speech system, a collaborative citizenship project between Microsoft, ILTEC, and ALM – Associaçon de la Lhéngua Mirandesa. Development efforts encompassed the compilation of a large textual corpus, definition of a complete phone-set, development of a tokenizer, inflector, TN and GTP modules, and creation of a large phonetic lexicon with syllable segmentation, stress mark-up, and POS. The TTS system will provide an open access web interface freely available to the community, along with the other resources. We took advantage of mature tools, resources, and processes already available for phylogenetically-close languages, allowing us to cut development time and resources to a great extent, a solution that can be viable for other lesser-spoken languages which enjoy a similar situation.
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    BaTelÒc: A text base for the Occitan language
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016-02) Bras, Myriam ; Vergez-Couret, Marianne
    Language Documentation, as defined by Himmelmann (2006), aims at compiling and preserving linguistic data for studies in linguistics, literature, his- tory, ethnology, sociology. This initiative is vital for endangered languages such as Occitan, a romance language spoken in southern France and in several valleys of Spain and Italy. The documentation of a language concerns all its modalities, covering spoken and written language, various registers and so on. Nowadays, Occitan documentation mostly consists of data from linguistic atlases, virtual libraries from the modern to the contemporary period, and text bases for the Middle Ages. BaTelÒc is a text base for modern and contemporary periods. With the aim of creating a wide coverage of text collections, BaTelÒc gathers not only written literary texts (prose, drama and poetry) but also other genres such as technical texts and newspapers. Enough material is already available to foresee a text base of hundreds of millions of words. BaTelÒc not only aims at documenting Occitan, it is also designed to provide tools to explore texts (different criteria for corpus selection, concordance tools and more complex enquiries with regular expressions). As for linguistic analysis, the second step is to enrich the corpora with annotations. Natural Language Processing of endangered languages such as Occitan is very challenging. It is not possible to transpose existing models for resource-rich languages directly, partly because of the spelling, dialectal variations, and lack of standardization. With BaTelÒc we aim at providing corpora and lexicons for the development of basic natural language processing tools, namely OCR and a Part-of-Speech tagger based on tools initially designed for machine translation and which take variation into account.
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    Language Landscape: Supporting community-led language documentation
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016-02) Ritchie, Sandy ; Goodchild, Samantha ; Dohle, Ebany
    Different groups have differing motivations for participating in language documentation projects. Linguists want to increase our knowledge of languages and linguistic theory, but constraints on their work may lead to issues with their documentation projects, including their representations of the languages they study. Native speakers participate to maintain and develop their language, and may choose to represent it in a way which showcases their culture and attitudes. In order to encourage more native speakers to take part in documentation projects, a simple integrated system is required which will enable them to record, annotate and publish recordings. Language Landscape, our web-based application, enables native speakers to publish their recordings, and Aikuma, a mobile application for documentation, enables them to record and orally translate recordings, in both cases with minimal cost and training required. Language Landscape benefits communities by allowing them to document their language as they see fit, as demonstrated by our outreach program, through which some London school children created their own projects to document their own languages and those spoken around them.
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    Reflections of an observant linguist regarding the orthography of A Fala de Us Tres Lugaris
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016-02) Valeš, Miroslav
    A Fala has never had a standardized orthography as it is a language of oral tradition and almost all written documents have always been produced only in Spanish. The few documents which exist in A Fala use orthographies that vary considerably, especially when indicating the phonemes which are absent in standard Spanish. However, in the past decades there have been signs of an increasing interest regarding the language and cultural identity in the three villages and there have also been attempts to establish organizations to promote the language, such as A Fala y Cultura, U Lagartu Verdi, and A Nosa Fala. This increase in language awareness leads inevitably to situations, when the speakers want to express their linguistic identity in written form and the lack of written standard makes this task rather difficult. The objective of this paper is to analyze the public inscriptions, direction signs and street names written in A Fala. The appearance of these signs expresses the willingness of the speakers of A Fala to claim their linguistic identity. At the same time, their inconsistent orthography reveals the problems that arise in the course of writing their language. There are two main causes of these difficulties: The influence of Spanish, as all the speakers are bilingual in Spanish, and variation within the language itself. Regarding the first cause, the main issues include the uncertainty how to write the phonemes that do not exist in standard Spanish, and also whether the phonemes that do exist in Spanish should be written in the same way or not. In respect of the second cause, the signposts and street names reflect the three main varieties: Valverdeñu, Lagarteiru and Mañegu. They also partially reflect the ideas of those who created them and testify to a certain evolution in time. In general, the linguistic data in the form of street names and direction signs provide relevant information about the options for writing those phonemes which do not have an equivalent in Spanish, as well as geographical (diatopic) variation, and the changes of ideas regarding the orthography. This paper will use this valuable linguistic material to reflect on the issues that are involved in the establishment of an orthographical standard.
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    Multilingualism and structural borrowing in Arbanasi Albanian
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016-02) Willer-Gold, Jana ; Gnjatović, Tena ; Katunar, Daniela ; Matasović, Ranko
    In this paper we present a brief overview of the history of linguistic contacts of Arbanasi Albanian, a Gheg Albanian dialect spoken in Croatia, with Croatian and Italian. Then we discuss a number of contact-induced changes in that language. We show that Arbanasi Albanian was subject to strong influences from Croatian (and, to a lesser extent, from Italian) on all levels of linguistic structure. Using the data from our own fieldwork, we were able to show that there were also influences on the level of syntax, including the borrowing of certain constructions, such as analytic causative and imperative constructions, as well as the extension of the use of infinitive in subordinate clauses.
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    El árabe ceutí, una lengua minorizada. Propuestas para su enseñanza en la escuela
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016-02) Moscoso García, Francisco
    The Arabic of Ceuta is the native language of 40% of the Spanish population of Ceuta, which also speaks Spanish. The remainder 60% is mostly monolingual and their native language is Spanish. There is also 1% of bilingual citizens whose native tongue is Sindhi. The Arabic of Ceuta is Moroccan Arabic, the native language of 60% of the population of the neighboring country and, specifically, it shares common features with the northern dialect area (Yebala region and the Atlantic coast down to the city of Larache). But its use in Spanish territory since the second half of 19th century gave rise to two phenomena: Spanish borrowings and code-switching in the case of bilingual speakers. The Arabic of Ceuta is an oral language, like Moroccan Arabic, which has never been standardized from the political sphere, in contrast with literal Arabic (also called cultivated, standard, modern or classic), which is not the native language of any Arab in the world and has emerged as the only means of educational, political, and cultural expression due to political and religious power. Despite this, there is a whole literary tradition, oral and written, in Moroccan Arabic, especially from the 20th century. Currently, there is a group of Moroccan professors and intellectuals working on its coding in order to generalize a writing system in Arabic script. Ceuta is the Spanish region with the highest school dropout rate in Spain, and this is particularly acute in schools where the majority of students are bilingual. Many experts recommend teachers and professors to teach in the native language of their pupils, at least at the beginning of their education. In this paper we will put forward some proposals for the recognition of Ceuta Arabic as coded by the movement of Moroccan intellectuals who are already working on the development of a dictionary, a grammar, text collections, and translations of works from the European literature to Moroccan Arabic. The ultimate goal should be its inclusion in the educational and administrative services of the city as well as to achieve an official status in the future, rightly recognized by the Spanish Constitution.
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    Language Revitalization: The case of Judeo-Spanish varieties in Macedonia
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2016-02) Zarghooni-Hoffmann, Esther
    Judeo-Spanish is a secondary dialect of the Spanish language having evolved from the ancient standard Spanish in the course of its expansion southwards. Although the language enjoys a heritage and presence in the Balkans of over five centuries, it is now facing language death – its acuteness depending on the region. In Macedonia,1 the two varieties of Bitola and Skopje last documented by Kolonomos (1962) need to be labelled “moribund” or “nearly extinct”. This paper aims to point out some of the aspects relevant to the author’s doctoral research study, in which a documentation of the current language status of Judeo-Spanish in Macedonia is envisaged. The deliberations look at the reasons for language endangerment and at the same time evaluate possibilities and opportunities for language revitalization – what priorities are to be set, what role do linguists and especially the community play, what is the approach, what are skills, methods, and steps to be taken into consideration to ensure not only a documentation of the language, but also and foremost its conservation and revitalization.