« Toolbox on a Mac | Blog home | There's fieldwork and there's fieldwork - Peter Austin »

business learning training articles new learning business training opportunities finance learning training deposit money learning making training art loan learning training deposits make learning your training home good income learning outcome training issue medicine learning training drugs market learning money training trends self learning roof training repairing market learning training online secure skin learning training tools wedding learning training jewellery newspaper learning for training magazine geo learning training places business learning training design Car learning and training Jips production learning training business ladies learning cosmetics training sector sport learning and training fat burn vat learning insurance training price fitness learning training program furniture learning at training home which learning insurance training firms new learning devoloping training technology healthy learning training nutrition dress learning training up company learning training income insurance learning and training life dream learning training home create learning new training business individual learning loan training form cooking learning training ingredients which learning firms training is good choosing learning most training efficient business comment learning on training goods technology learning training business secret learning of training business company learning training redirects credits learning in training business guide learning for training business cheap learning insurance training tips selling learning training abroad protein learning training diets improve learning your training home security learning training importance

[From Peter K. Austin, Endangered Languages Academic Programme, SOAS]

I spent last week in Lyon working on plans for collaborative teaching and research with Colette Grinevald and her colleagues at Lyon-2 University and the CNRS DDL research laboratory. This will include a summer school on language documentation planned for June-July 2008 (we will announce more details soon), joint workshops and conferences, and development of a European Masters programme.

On Saturday (31st March) Michel Bert, who also teaches at Lyon-2 and is a researcher in the CNRS ICAR research laboratory, invited Colette and me to accompany him south from Lyon along the Rhône River to visit the field sites where he has been collecting data on the Franco-Provençal language over the past 10 years. Michel's PhD dissertation is a detailed study of this language based on data he collected from over 150 consultants.

Franco-Provençal is a Gallo-Romance language related to French and Occitan (Provençal) spoken in central France (it was the language of Lyon before French arrived), western Switzerland (including Geneva) and the Val D’Aosta region of north-west Italy – the name Franco-Provençal was invented by the linguist G.I. Ascoli in 1878 because he believed the language shares features with both French and Provençal. It is called “patois” or “romand” by locals; some people prefer “Arpitan” (meaning ‘alpine’) because they dislike the mixed connotation of the term Franco-Provençal. There is an informative Wikipedia entry (the %C3%A7 represents c-cedilla!) and Ethnologue has some rather inaccurate information.

The language has very low status throughout France and Switzerland and has been losing ground rapidly to French – only in Val D’Aosta in Italy does it have official status, including being taught in school. There is a lot of available dialectological information on the language, including video clips from the Valais region in Switzerland, and a Vuiquipèdia (Wikipedia) . Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is virtually no language documentation-type material, eg. genres others than wordlists and narratives, such as conversations.

Along the Rhône south of Lyon where we went on Saturday the language has virtually disappeared and become stratified according to altitude. In villages along the river it is now extinct (Michel recorded the last speakers who have since died), in villages on the plateau above the river the remaining speakers are in their 70’s and 80’s, and it is only in isolated villages above 1000 metres that speakers in their 60’s are found. Interestingly it is now essentially a men’s language, being spoken by older farmers to their sons, since women have switched to the more prestigious French.

When talking to Michel about his fieldwork experiences tons of similarities came up to ‘transient languages’ work that I have done in Australia and Colette in Latin America, eg. the “expert” everyone in the community recommends but who doesn’t know much, as against the “ignorant peasant” who is socially isolated but speaks the language fluently. There are also semi-speakers whose fluency has increased during the time Michel has been working with them and who now have become the “last speakers” as the older generation passes on (“long live the last speaker!” as Nick Evans wrote). Due to the political climate in France however there is little non-academic support for the language there.

It was interesting to me to see all this just an hour by car outside of greater Lyon, which claims itself to be the second largest city in France.

The Authors

About the Blog

The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.

Recently commented on


Papua New Guinea FAQs from Eva Lindstrom Papua New Guinea (New Ireland): Eva Lindstrom's tips for fieldworkers

Australian Languages Answers to some frequently asked questions about Australian languages

Papua Web Information network on Papua, Indonesia (formerly Irian Jaya)

Hibernating blogs

Indigenous Language SPEAK

Langguj gel Australian linguistics and fieldwork blog

Interesting Blogs

Omniglot Writing systems and languages of the world

LingFormant Linguistics news

Language hat Linguistics news and commentary

Jabal al-Lughat Linguistics news and commentary on a range of languages

Living languages Blog with news items and discussion of endangered languages

OzPapersOnline Notices of recent work on the Indigenous languages of Australia

That Munanga linguist Community linguist blog

Anggarrgoon Claire Bowern's linguistics and fieldwork blog

Savage Minds A group blog on Anthropology

Fully (sic)

Language on the Move Intercultural communication and multilingualism

Talking Alaska: Reflections on the native languages of Alaska

Culture matters: applying anthropology Australian anthropology blog: postgraduates and staff

Long Road ethnography and anthropology blog - including about Australia

matjjin-nehen Blog on Australian linguistics, fieldwork, politics and the environment.

Language Log Group blog on language and linguistics


E-MELD The E-MELD School of Best Practices in Digital Language Documentation

Tema Modersmål Website in Swedish with links to sites on and in many languages

Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project: Language Documentation: What is it? Information on equipment, formats, and archiving, and examples of documentation

Indigenous Peoples Issues & Resources a worldwide network of organizations, academics, activists, indigenous groups, and others representing indigenous and tribal peoples

Technorati Profile

Technology-enhanced language revitalization Include ILAT (Indigenous Languages and Technology) discussion list.

Endangered languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia

Koryak Net Information on the people of Kamchatka

Linguistic fieldwork preparation: a guide for field linguists syllabi, funding, technology, ethics, readings, bibliography

On-line resources for endangered languages

Papua New Guinea Language Resources Phonologies, grammars, dictionaries, literacy, language maps for many PNG languages

Resource network for linguistic diversity Networking practitioners working to record,retrieve & reintroduce endangered languages


ACLA child language acquisition in three Australian Aboriginal communities

DELAMAN The Digital Endangered Languages and Musics Archives Network

PARADISEC The Pacific And Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures

Murriny-Patha Song Project Documenting the language and music of public songs and dances composed and performed by Murriny Patha-speaking people

PFED The Project for Free Electronic Dictionaries

DOBES Endangered language documentation and archiving, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation and sponsored by the Max Planck Institute, Nijmegen.

DELP Documenting endangered languages at the University of Sydney

Ethno EResearch Exploring methods and technology for streaming media and interlinear text