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April 2009

[passed on from the Foundation for Endangered Languages]

Media release:

Sacred Earth Network, a non-profit organization located in Petersham, Massachusetts, is continuing its Endangered Languages Program after its successful launch in 2008. Endangered Languages Program aims to support preservation and revival of those indigenous languages which are threatened with extinction and which are vital to indigenous cultures of Siberia and North/Central America. One of the components of the Program is financial assistance to projects working towards these goals. In 2008 we offered assistance to eight grassroots language preservation projects in Russia and the US.

With the deadline approaching soon - May 15th 2009, we would like to spread the word out to underfunded grassroots initiatives about financial assistance that we are offering to projects that work towards preservation of indigenous languages particularly in North America.

We are very much hoping for your assistance in dissemination of this information among interested organizations and individuals. If you would like to post this information on your website or newsletter you are encouraged to do this. If you would like to point out further contacts the coordinator would be very grateful as well.

Please address inquiries about the Endangered Languages Program to the Program's Coordinator, Mariyam Medovaya, at mariyamsacredearth AT gmail.com

Way back when (actually 20-21 February), I went to the National Symposium on Assessing English as a Second/Additional Language or Dialect in the Australian Context. Jill Wigglesworth and I gave a talk on some of the problems we see with the NAPLAN testing of second language learners of English, in particular Indigenous children living in remote communities where they mostly only hear standard English at school or on the telly. There were plenty of bloggable moments and discussion, but life got in the way of actual blogging.

Now, thanks to Adriano Truscott, I've got the link to the handouts and powerpoints of the presentations. Here they are.

And here [.pdf] also are the recommendations that people concerned with Indigenous education made.

3 comments |

[from Nick Thieberger]

The 1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC) was held in Honolulu from March 12-14th this year. With a theme of ‘Supporting small languages together’ the emphasis was on collaborations, between
linguists and speakers, and between linguistics and other disciplines.

Over 300 people attended the conference with over 150 presentations on offer. When we began planning the conference we thought we may get 70 or 80 proposals and so we planned on a three day conference. However, despite rejecting nearly a third of the proposals, we still had a full schedule with up to six parallel sessions. Since this would result in participants missing some papers that they wanted to hear we decided to record as many papers as we could. We have now placed some 120 recordings online, together with pdf files and images of the presenters. This can be accessed here, and searched by presenter or by title.

There were four conference plenaries: Nikolaus Himmelmann discussed the nature of linguistic data and documentation; Paul Newman played devil’s advocate, suggesting ways in which language documentation could rethink some directions; Phil Cash Cash talked about an insider’s perspective on documentation for promotion of language use; Leanne Hinton ended the conference giving us inspiration about the ways in which language reintroduction is working in various North American language communities.

The full schedule, with abstracts, can be seen here.

[Thanks to Myf Turpin for passing this information on]

In many cultures birds indicate ecological events and can be harbingers of bad news through their role in mythology. Birds can signal where water can be found, the presence of game or other food, seasonal events or danger. This series of posters features birds that are indicators in four endangered Central Australian Aboriginal languages: Arrernte, Anmatyerr, Alyawarr and Kaytetye.

Each poster includes a color photograph of the bird, its Aboriginal, scientific and common name, as well as information about what it signifies, with an English translation. The posters are the result of collaborative work with Aboriginal language speakers, linguists and ornithologists. They are produced by the Cultural Signs Project, Charles Darwin University.

They can be viewed here:

And can be purchased online from the Charles Darwin University Bookshop for $13.95

[from Sheena Van Der Mark, La Trobe University]

A workshop about bringing non-linguistic aspects of fieldwork out of lunchtime conversations and into a more public domain is being proposed for the upcoming Australian Linguistics Society Conference at La Trobe University. This is the abstract for the workshop as it currently stands:

The experiences we have in the field have a profound impact on the outcomes of our research, academically, personally and for the communities involved. This workshop is an opportunity to explore some of the issues associated with fieldwork and its repercussions in a professional forum. The first paper, Fieldwork and Your Wellbeing (S. Van Der Mark, S. Morey and T. Stebbins), discusses newly established practices within the RCLT with respect managing fieldwork in terms of risk management, safety, and personal well-being (including both professional and personal relationships). In the second paper, Bringing Fieldwork Home (C. Eira), the author discusses how fieldwork is inseparable from directions for both linguistics and life itself - that fieldwork is not something that is 'outside over there', whether or not your fieldwork site is far away. This workshop aims to bring non-linguistic aspects of fieldwork into the academic domain, and facilitate discussion about linguists and fieldwork.

We hope to be able to broaden the workshop by involving three more presenters on related topics or with different perspectives on relevant issues. Topics could include things like the following:

  • fieldwork and ethics
  • doing academic linguistics versus work that benefits the language community and how to reconcile these areas
  • 'ownership' of linguistic data
  • evolving working (and/or personal) relationships with language communities
  • mentoring/supporting students and colleagues doing fieldwork
  • the representation of fieldwork to different communities (the language community, the academic community, and how we represent ourselves to the 'outside' world)

These are just a few ideas of the type of topics that we are envisioning, but other ideas that fit in with the overall theme of the non-linguistic aspects of doing fieldwork (working with language communities) would be welcome. If you are interested (or know of anyone who would be - perhaps a grad student who is keen to discuss their experiences), I would need the title of the proposed talk, and a brief description (not a full abstract) about what you would present.

Deadline: 10:00 am on Monday, 6th April.

e-mail to Sheena Van Der Mark: S.VanDerMark AT latrobe.edu.au

From: Peter K. Austin
Department of Linguistics, SOAS
30th March 2009

The Endangered Languages Academic Programme at SOAS is experimenting this year with including hands-on in situ fieldwork as part of our MA in Language Documentation and Description.

A group of MA students is currently carrying out two weeks of fieldwork in Guernsey with Dr Julia Sallabank, Research Fellow in Language Support and Revitalisation, who has been doing research on Dgèrnésiais (the locally preferred spelling, more commonly spelled Guernésiais) for many years. The students are documenting contemporary language use and making digital audio and video recordings of narrative and conversations, putting into practice the knowledge and skills they have been acquiring in their MA coursework, especially the half-units Field Methods and Technology and Language Documentation. Dgèrnésiais is the nearest autochthonous endangered language to SOAS and is estimated by Jan Marquis, the Guernsey Language Support Officer, to have around 1,000 speakers (just 2% of the population), with the bulk of them aged over 60. The trip is timed to coincide with the annual Guernsey Eisteddfod which includes poetry and speaking competitions.


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