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Peter K. Austin
Department of Linguistics, SOAS
7 July 2009

The two-week 3L Summer School continued last week with plenary lectures on documentation and linguistic theory, language policy, language archiving, and documentation and language typology. Courses in the second week included Amazonian languages, Caucasian languages, Grammar writing, and documenting special vocabulary, together with the continuation of documenting sign languages, and sociolinguistics of language endangerment.

The Summer School ended in London last Friday with a Student Conference organised and run entirely by a group of SOAS PhD students with presentations from attendees at the summer school. The papers covered a wide range of topics and were of excellent quality -- so many good papers were submitted that the organisers decided to run two parallel sessions from 9:30am to 5:30pm. Here are the titles of the presentations organised by topic:

  • Language maintenance and revitalisation
    • New media forms and language revitalisation
    • Making use of resources from language documentation and description to enable language-based development
    • Visual representation of language maintenance and shift
  • Documentation theory
    • Challenges in documenting a moribund language: Ngarla
    • Documenting Ava-Guarani in the context of linguistic heterogeneity
    • The role of semi-speakers in language documentation
    • The importance of language documentation for languages which are not yet endangered
    • Old archives and the documentation and description of extinct languages
    • Edited fieldnotes and onomasiological grammar
  • Sign language documentation
    • Name signs in Ethiopian sign language
    • Is there a sentence in ASL? Insights on segmenting signed language data
    • Documentation of sociolinguistic variation in contemporary Auslan
  • Phonology and language documentation
    • The joy of doing prosodic research in a lesser known language
    • A tone inventory of Njanga
    • Lost in perception: transcribing distinctions not present in one's native language
  • Language overviews
    • The Istro-Romanians
    • The Katukina-Kanamari language
    • Megrelian: one century of language change
  • Multimedia, data and archiving
    • Central Alaskan Yup'ik: a linguistic research project
    • OLAC metadata and the need for improved metadata practices
    • How many languages are described?
  • Varia
    • Cultural worldviews and their implications for linguistic attitudes
    • Motion event segmentation in Jaminjung
    • Syntactic features in a linguistic atlas

The sign language documentation session included two presentations by deaf researchers (the session chair was also a deaf researcher) and at least one other was the first talk in English by
a presenter (and very well done too!). The talks were all of a high quality and prompted lively discussion among the 70 or so participants.

After a Farewell Party many of the students spent their last night in London dancing salsa at a club in Soho (photos can be found on the 3L Summer School group page on Facebook for those interested). I myself had to skip the dancing to go home and pack for a morning flight the next day to San Francisco to join the LSA Summer Institute where I am teaching a course on Syntax of Indonesian Languages for three weeks (the first lecture on Monday morning seems to have gone OK, despite the effects of an 8-hour time difference from London and the resulting jetlag).

The 3L Summer School series will continue in 2010 at Leiden University in The Netherlands. Details of the dates and organisational information will be announced by the 3L consortium members later this year.

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