Towards an interdisciplinary bridge between documentation and revitalization: Bringing ethnographic methods into endangered-language projects and programming

Date
2019-02
Authors
Shulist, Sarah
Rice, Faun
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University of Hawaii Press
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Abstract
This paper addresses the gaps between language documentation and language revitalization. It is intended for several audiences, including field linguists interested in supporting endangered language sustainability efforts and participants of all kinds in language revitalization courses, programs, and infrastructure. The authors contend that ethnographic methods have transformative potential for contemporary language revitalization practice. Using anthropological tools, linguists and/or speech community members can enrich documentary efforts, mobilize linguistic data for more effective revitalization programs, and improve assessments of language revitalization projects. Beginning with a discussion of ethnographic methods and their connection to existing linguistic practices, this paper moves on to address the impact of language revitalization planning and infrastructure on endangered language use. It then outlines key ethnographic concepts that were identified as particularly useful in two pilot ethnographic methods classes run by the authors in 2015 and 2016, each of which can be operationalized using the basic tenets of participant observation. These concepts present ways of re-evaluating understandings of “communities”; considering language ideologies, ideological clarification, and language socialization; recognizing the nature and implications of different social roles and identities of those involved in revitalization projects; and attuning to genre and intertextuality in the development of resources. The incorporation of both basic ethnographic methodologies and of conceptual frames like these can supplement a field linguist’s or a language revitalization program’s tools to help them better collaborate across differences, support and assess language programs, and understand the obstacles that may exist between them, their collaborators, and sustainable language vitality.
Description
Keywords
language documentation, language revitalization, ethnographic methods, interdisciplinary
Citation
Shulist, Sarah & Faun Rice. 2019. Towards an interdisciplinary bridge between documentation and revitalization: Bringing ethnographic methods into endangered-language projects and programming. Language Documentation & Conservation 13: 36-62.
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27 pages
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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International
Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States
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