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Documenting Thong Boi Language: An LDTC participant experience (a.k.a. How a non-linguist became LDTC Co-director)

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Title:Documenting Thong Boi Language: An LDTC participant experience (a.k.a. How a non-linguist became LDTC Co-director)
Authors:Anip, Erenst
Contributors:Anip, Erenst (speaker)
Date Issued:02 Mar 2013
Description:This presentation focuses on the author’s language documentation experience as a Chinese Indonesian (non-linguist) who as an international undergraduate business student in a US university. The author speaks Thong Boi, a language that shares a number of similarities with Hakka (ISO 639-3: hak) spoken in China although there has not been much interaction between the speech communities in China and Bangka. In Indonesia, it is spoken in Bangka Island ever since Chinese migrants came in the 18th century as tin miners. It is also spoken in several major cities where Chinese Indonesians from Bangka have moved to to seek better fortune. Due to its isolation from the rest of the Hakka communities, Thong Boi has evolved uniquely. However, due to external forces such as migrations, social stigma, and government ban on Chinese culture (until 1998), is potentially entering an endangered state with decreasing number of speakers.

The Language Documentation Training Center (LDTC) is a program initiated and run by Linguistics graduate students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, to contribute to the worldwide documentation effort of endangered languages and share the knowledge with the world.

This presentation demonstrates how through his participation in language documentation activities offered by LDTC and guidance from a knowledgeable LDTC mentor, the author gradually contributes to the documentation and revitalization of Thong Boi through field works, data gathering, and analysis; and producing a website, online dictionary, a few papers/posters, and a grammatical sketch. Furthermore, as the author became more interested in the issue of language endangerment, he took on more responsibilities, using his marketing background and fundraising experience, as LDTC co-director and became more involved in other language documentation related activities, i.e. sharing and presenting his documentation efforts and newly found knowledge at different international, national, and local forums/conferences and organizing language documentation conferences.

Also, by focusing on Thong Boi, a language with cultural origin in China yet bearing ‘Creole-like’ characteristics, this presentation unfolds the complexity of the sociolinguistic context and enriches our understanding and issues in documenting the language. This study presents an innovative example of how international academic initiatives can make a difference locally. Furthermore, the author’s experience in LDTC as participant, and later on as co-director, demonstrates how study-abroad contexts have offered spaces for language documentation and heritage language identity development and rediscovery. In a nutshell, this presentation will show how a non-linguist became a community linguist and language activist through participation in LDTC, a workshop to train speakers of underdocumented languages in a university setting.

Thong Boi website:
Rights:Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections: 3rd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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