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Strategies for moving ahead: Linguistics and community goals

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Title: Strategies for moving ahead: Linguistics and community goals
Authors: Rice, Keren
Issue Date: 30 Sep 2011
Description: This conference is called “Strategies for Moving Ahead.” I would like to address the pillars of the title, documentation and conservation, and examine some different models than are usually found in the literature on documentation, conservation, and revitalization that provide strategies, under appropriate circumstances, for moving ahead. In early discussions of language documentation, the recording of language is generally the primary goal, with work with communities taking a secondary role. There has been increasing emphasis on community more recently, with language and linguistics continuing to be at the centre in discussions of this extended view of documentation. Communities are often interested in language conservation, with revitalization frequently part of a broader goal of community development, sustainability, and growth. Where the linguistic notion of documentation fits the community goals is not always clear. In this talk, I would like to describe two projects that I have been involved with that have such goals, and look at the role that linguistics plays. One project, Ciimaan (‘canoe’ in Anishinaabemowin), is run out of the University of Toronto, and was designed as an urban learning community for participants to become bi-cultural navigators. Ciimaan provides an opportunity to develop transferable job and leadership skills while teaching, learning, and promoting Anishinaabemowin through culturally-based activities and community projects. What role might a linguist play in such a project that is motivated by goals of creating community? The program, while focused on language, did not engage the skills that a linguist has to offer at the start, but those skills have come to be regarded as critical to the overall conception of the project. The second project, the Déline Knowledge Project, has been going on in Déline, Northwest Territories, Canada for some time. This project is broadly concerned with traditional knowledge and self government. Language is one important interest, and there has been extensive work done on recording, archiving, transcription of stories, as well as work with youth on valuing cultural knowledge, including language. As this a community-driven project has evolved, participants have become increasingly interested in developing dictionaries, in literacy, in language variation, and in other areas where linguists have a contribution to make, and have sought education in linguistics. This was not the starting point, but, as with Ciimaan, linguistics has come to be a critical piece of the work of rethinking community governance. In these cases, language plays an essential role in ongoing work on efforts to strengthen the community. In both cases, the starting point has been community rather than language and language documentation. The role of linguistic work has emerged from other priorities, being one piece of a complex, with the linguist part of a team of academic and community researchers working together to move ahead, and contributions to language understanding often arising in rather indirect ways.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:2nd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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