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Leveraging web technologies to enrich archival materials for use in language revitalization

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Title:Leveraging web technologies to enrich archival materials for use in language revitalization
Authors:Ko, Edwin
Wax Cavallaro, Maya
Dirks, Moses
Berge, Anna
Contributors:Ko, Edwin (speaker)
Wax Cavallaro, Maya (speaker)
Dirks, Moses (speaker)
Berge, Anna (speaker)
Date Issued:04 Mar 2017
Description:Over the past two decades, there has been a rise in utilizing language archives not only for linguistic research, but also in revitalization efforts (e.g. Breath of Life workshops). Contributing towards this enterprise, several participants in the CoLang 2016 practicum on Unangam Tunuu (or Aleut), a highly endangered language of Alaska, have been exploring Unangan language materials housed at the Alaska Native Language Archive for use towards language revitalization. The purpose of our talk is to describe our efforts to transform these archival materials into interactive web applications, accessible on computer, tablet and mobile. One resource is a webpage displaying a set of stories produced in 1972, without any English, when bilingualism in Unangam Tunuu and English was more widespread. Hovering over each word displays the English gloss, and some glosses also display a picture. Clicking on the word plays a sound recording of a native speaker saying that word. Another resource, also a webpage, uses an interactive presentation framework, allowing users to explore topics such as numbers and weather terms at their own pace. Users can navigate horizontally or vertically through the slides. Upon entering a slide, an audio recording of a native speaker saying the word or phrase is played, and visual aids are incorporated throughout in an effort to limit the use of English. The slides can also be printed for use in the classroom and at home. Finally, several Unangan songs found on audio recordings, as well as one written by a native speaker and educator, were transcribed and placed online. Music can be a valuable educational tool in classrooms, while incorporating important aspects of culture and self-expression. Working with audio materials can, and did, present exciting challenges, such as rare technology (e.g. glass discs), aged and damaged materials, and transcription of extinct language varieties. A common issue shared across many endangered language communities is the lack of language teaching and learning materials. Creating educational resources is especially challenging for understudied languages, and designing and developing teaching materials requires large amounts of time, effort, and money. By leveraging materials housed in language archives and adapting them to the current (socio-)linguistic context, we may be able to bypass some of these obstacles. In collaboration with community members, the methods and processes from the practicum are being applied to archival materials of Crow, a Siouan language spoken in southeastern Montana, housed at the Little Big Horn College Archive.
Appears in Collections: 5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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