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Rapid Word Collection, dictionary production, and community well-being

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Item Summary

Title:Rapid Word Collection, dictionary production, and community well-being
Authors:Boerger, Brenda
Contributors:Boerger, Brenda (speaker)
Date Issued:03 Mar 2017
Description:I present evidence from multiple languages around the world to show that participation by community members in Rapid Word Collection (RWC) workshops and the resulting bilingual dictionary positively impacts their well-being. Sub-titled video testimonials by community members from languages in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific are presented or summarized in which they talk about participating in a RWC workshop. RWC methodology collects words by semantic domain during a two- to three-week workshop involving around 60 community members.
It has been observed that concomitant with language development in general there is an increase in the status and value of the language on one hand and the self-image of its speakers on the other (Ostler 2003:176). A dictionary is one product of language documentation and conservation which is frequently requested by communities. Some of the reasons dictionaries and their production increase well-being are among the following. First, dictionaries are important for preserving language and culture data for posterity. Second, bilingual or trilingual dictionaries, especially, can be a conduit for understanding other cultures. Third, sometimes languages are not recognized as potential recipients of other governmental services until there is a dictionary or other language development product which confers status on the language. Fourth, a dictionary also serves as a literacy tool in the community and its schools, contributing to growing abilities in literacy
RWC also benefits the scholar-fieldworker by generating an extensive wordlist which can help inform texts that are collected, providing a head start on text glossing and processing. In addition, it has been shown (Author et al) that RWC facilitates collecting more words in less time than other methods, thereby increasing the effectiveness of fieldwork with regard to time invested, numbers of words collected, and native speaker consensus about the data.
The assertions made in this presentation are supported with data from a late 2015 RWC workshop in the Pacific, which I led with a team of seven US interns as part of research for a Documenting Endangered Languages fellowship.
I conclude that the increased well-being and other benefits for the community, in addition to the effectiveness of the methodology warrant incorporation of RWC workshop methodology as part of best practice in lexicography for minority and endangered languages.
Author, Gary F. Simons, and Verna Stutzman, In progress. Rapid Word Collection workshops: Community engagement yields more words in less time
Ostler, Nicholas. 2003. Desperate straits for languages: How to survive. Language Documentation and Description 1:168-178.
Appears in Collections: 5th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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