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February 2009

From: Peter K. Austin
Department of Linguistics, SOAS
20th February 2009

Unesco has just published the latest version on its Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger edited by Christopher Moseley (the original 1996 and 2001 editions were edited by the late Stephen A. Wurm). The on-line interactive version of the Atlas is now available and the book version is due out soon. There is also a downloadable map in .pdf format (warning, it's 20 Mbytes in size and unless you have access to a very large monitor or printer it is not terribly usable).

The editorial group who assisted Moseley is a veritable who's who of specialists in endangered languages, including 27 experts from 13 named regions, supplemented by 6 specialists who provided "complementary information on specific areas". Having spoken to several of the contributors personally (including one colleague I met in Tokyo last week), it appears that preparation of the database underlying the Atlas was not all harmony and light and resulted in some disagreements among contributors. Not so unusual in endangered languages research, I guess.

I had a little cruise around the interactive presentation, which uses a Google Maps interface and noticed quite a few oddities in regions where I have a little knowledge. Perhaps readers of this blog will notice more. There is a "Contribute your comments" link to the website but it appears to be broken because all it does is display the same page. There doesn't seem to be anywhere one could point out apparent errors to Unesco and the editor, however it is possible to comment on individual listed languages by clicking on their "pin" on the Google Map and going to the "Comments" tab in the information that pops up. The comment then disappears and where it goes is not at all clear.

Here are a few other things I noticed:

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From: Peter K. Austin
Department of Linguistics, SOAS

9 February 2009

David Nathan, Director of the Endangered Languages Archive, at SOAS, and I are back in Tokyo at the invitation of Toshihide Nakayama of ILCAA, the Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies for 10 days to run a workshop on language documentation that follows up our 2008 workshop. This year we are taking a different tack and focusing the week of seminars and practical sessions on the principles and practices of archiving endangered languages materials. The week begins on Monday (today) with preparations in the morning and David's public lecture on "Archiving endangered language materials" in the afternoon. Classes begin in earnest on Tuesday and run until Friday, with sessions from 10am to 5pm each day. There will be 15 attendees, mostly students who are doing fieldwork in various locations around the world. Details of the workshop can be found here.

The topics we plan to cover include:

  • Language documentation and language archiving - major issues
  • Audio - good practices refresher
  • Audio recording - how to make great audio
  • Data and metadata - good practices refresher
  • Data management practical
  • Workflow for archiving
  • Mobilisation and delivery of language materials
  • Transcription, annotation, translation - good practices refresher
  • IP and ethical issues in the delivery, usage, and archiving of materials

There will be group work in the practical sessions and a final discussion with presentations by the attendees on the last day. If time and energy permit I will blog about how the workshop goes and report on some of the outcomes.


From: Peter K. Austin
Department of Linguistics, SOAS

6th February 2009

The Department of Linguistics at the School of Oriental and African Studies is proud to announce the second 3L International Summer School on Language Documentation and Description to be held in London 22nd June to 3rd July 2009 (information about the summer school is also available en français). Courses will be in English, with tutorial and practical sessions in French and English. There will be two conferences associated with the summer school (see below).


This two week summer school aims at introducing the concepts and practices of language documentation and its links to language description for future and novice field linguists. It will draw upon the extensive expertise of the three organising universities in the 3L Consortium: University of Lyon, Leiden University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. It follows on from the success of the first 3L Summer School held in Lyon in 2008.


Puliima 2009 National Indigenous Language and Information Communication Technology Forum
Koori Heritage Trust and William Angliss Institute Conference Centre, Melbourne, Australia
1st and 2nd April 2009

[UPDATE 11/2/2009
Puliima have announced that they have limited travel funds to be able to assist people, especially Indigenous people from North Queensland and Victoria, to attend. E-mail puliima2009@acra.org.au with your request

This is a joint production from the Arwarbukarl Cultural Resource Association Inc (ACRA), and the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages (VACL) .

"Our goal is to create a learning environment that not only exposes language workers to the various ICT support available to them, but also provides them with skills that will enable them to forge ahead in their language reclamation work"

There's still time to register, to exhibit relevant information and to give presentations. Check on the Puliima website for more information.

This year they are showcasing material on Marvin 3D Character Animation, photography, audio recording , publishing resources, education, culture & language in a e-learning environment, and other general technology for language workers, including Miromaa.

The Foundation for Endangered Languqages is holding its thirteenth annual conference this year in Tajikistan, in association with the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan and The Institute of Humanities, Khorog.

Place: Institute of Humanities, Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, Khorog Tajikistan

Dates: 24-26 September, 2009

Abstract deadline: March 1, 2009

The languages of the conference: English, Russian and Tajik. Abstract and papers will be accepted in any of these languages. Go to the conference website for further information. But I've put the conference themes below in full, because they make one think about history in a serious and interesting way.


From: Peter K. Austin
Department of Linguistics, SOAS

2 February 2009

After the success of last year, we are running Endangered Languages Week 2009 at SOAS from 22nd to 28th February. The theme this year is "Endangered languages: who cares?"

Endangered Languages Week will presents a variety of displays, discussions, films, and workshops to provide a view of what is happening to languages around the world and what is being done to document, archive and support endangered languages at SOAS and elsewhere. Activities will include:


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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.


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

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

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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