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Language documentation in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan: The Ghulfan Documentation Project

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Title:Language documentation in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan: The Ghulfan Documentation Project
Authors:Williams, Robert
Jakobi, Angelika
Comfort, Jade
Contributors:Williams, Robert (speaker)
Jakobi, Angelika (speaker)
Comfort, Jade (speaker)
Date Issued:14 Mar 2009
Description:In this paper we will report on the long history of language documentation in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, highlighting recent endangered language work being carried out in the area. Of particular focus will be the Ghulfan Documentation Project (GDP), a major documentation project working to document, analyze, and archive Ghulfan, an endangered and little documented East Sudanic language spoken in the Nuba Mountains and in the Ghulfan Diaspora. The GDP, funded through the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project, is an internationally-based collaborative team of seven linguists, situated at the American University in Cairo and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. Various team members (four postdoctoral linguists, one doctoral student linguist, and two language community linguists) live in Khartoum, Cairo, and Germany, coming together for fieldwork and sharing documentation and analytical work according to team member competencies and interests. We will begin our talk with a historical overview of areal documentary linguistics in the Nuba Mountains, beginning in modern times with the work of Junker and Czermak in the first quarter of the 20th century, and continuing into the present with the GDP and other ongoing documentation projects in the Nuba Mountains, including the DOBES-sponsored Tima documentation project. In particular, we will discuss how different projects in the area have historically benefited from one another and what this has meant to the accumulated knowledge base for Nuba Mountain languages. With respect to the GDP, we will discuss a range of issues, including those involved with our preliminary work in Cairo, Egypt, with Ghulfan-speaking refugees; the challenges of working as an internationally-based team; communication and sharing of ideas and resources with other documentation projects in the area; doing fieldwork in politically sensitive areas; and the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology in fieldwork. It is our hope that this talk will begin a discussion of these and other issues with documentation workers in other areas so that we might mutually benefit from strategies and techniques used to confront similar challenges.
Rights:Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections: 1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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