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CoLang: Disciplinary Change and the Pop-up University

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Title: CoLang: Disciplinary Change and the Pop-up University
Authors: Tuttle, Siri
Taff, Alice
Issue Date: 04 Mar 2017
Description: This talk introduces the InField/CoLang Institute model of collaborative language documentation training as an example of cross-disciplinary academia. We will give a brief history and sketch of the model, then focus on the evolution of the Institute. At CoLang, language workers of every sort; academic, political, educational, and artistic, study together to develop their capabilities and professional networks. At CoLang 2016, we saw evidence of three important trends. Community-academic balance: Everyone has equal status at CoLang where the lines between “students” and “instructors” are blurred. Both have equally valuable knowledge and experience. Many CoLang “students” have achieved Master and PhD degrees in linguistics and other closely related fields since the first institute in 2008. We observe that community activists can acquire academic rank and, while achieving academic status is arduous, academicians cannot as easily acquire status in language communities. Many community activists without academic degrees have become instructors at CoLang. We encourage future CoLang organizers to continue blurring the lines by housing students and instructors together, empowering discussion over lecture style classes when possible, and recognizing who actually has what sorts of knowledge. Balance in linguistic applications: Prestigious degrees or experience are often needed to establish funded endangered language documentation programs. Documentation as an application of linguistics is often admininistratively separated from educationally oriented "Applied Linguistics." CoLang's Pop-up U shows us a program model that briefly erases this separation, creating an intellectual space in which language education and documentation don't have to compete. Encouragement of creativity: The artistic side of language work was clearly evident at CoLang 2016. Using Alaskan languages in translations of Shakespeare is an example, presented in a Models talk. We also saw digital materials created by language workers to share their learning of endangered languages. A number of presentations at CoLang's magically beautiful "sharing nights" brought such creations to life. Two such presentations were Fish’s “Pronunciation Guide for Blackfoot Melody,” and Zwetkof’s “Vocal production, speech sounds, and sound art.” Here we see materials that are not classical classroom resources, but inventive ways to share linguistic knowledge. This kind of work teaches, but it does not always fit into an academic category. As CoLang moves into its next iteration, we encourage the organizers to continue to reach out across community, discipline-internal and cross-disciplinary boundaries. We can't wait to see what they will accomplish.
Appears in Collections:5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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