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October 2009

[ from Peter K. Austin, Department of Linguistics, SOAS
24 October 2009

The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) in the Department of Linguistics at SOAS is seeking to appoint a Programme Director to take responsibility for leadership of the documentation programme. ELDP provides grants to fund projects, fellowships and field trips on a global basis. ELDP is part of the Hans Rausing Endangered Languages Project (HRELP) funded by Arcadia Trust, and is managed by SOAS. Decisions about ELDP grant applications are made by an independent international review panel which typically meets once a year.

The successful applicant will have overall responsibility for ELDP, including:

  • strategic planning
  • day-to-day administration
  • working with the programme administrator, independent panel chair and panel members
  • managing the award of grants with a budget of up to £1.5 million each year
  • maintaining and developing relationships with grant awardees

As part of the mission of HRELP, the successful applicant will be expected to engage in and promote outreach, community-building and training activities in language documentation throughout the world, and to work together with the Director of the Endangered Languages Academic Programme and the Director of the Endangered Languages Archive.

The position is for a fixed term until September 2016, starting in summer 2010, no later than September 2010. The salary range is £47,064 - £54,086 p.a. inclusive of London Allowance, and the closing date for applications is 7 December 2009 (SOAS Vacancy 000107).

Enquiries about the position may be made to the Interim Programme Director, Peter Sells (sells @ soas.ac.uk). For further information see the ELDP job web page, and to apply for this vacancy or download a job description, please use this direct link or visit SOAS Jobs. Interviews are provisionally scheduled for the week of 18 January 2010.

SOAS values diversity and aims to be an equal opportunities employer.†

[From our man, temporarily in India, Peter K. Austin, Department of Linguistics, SOAS]
23 October 2009

Last January I wrote a blog post about how Facebook is being used in various ways to present and document endangered languages.

My former student and colleague Domenyk Eades of Sultan Qaboos University, Oman, has just written to tell me about another use of Facebook, this time by speakers of Gayo, an endangered language spoken in Aceh, Indonesia. Domenyk did his PhD research on Gayo and published a grammar of it. He writes:

I recently found that there is a large group of Gayo people who are communicating on Facebook in their language, many of them have a rudimentary command of the language. Some university students from Takengon have a project called "Kamus Gayo Bergambar" (illustrated Gayo dictionary). Every day they send out a photograph and a list of about 5-8 Gayo words and their Indonesian equivalents. The Gayo Facebook friends of the dictionary, who live in Gayo and elsewhere in Indonesia, read and comment on the words. There have been some good discussions on the different words. At the moment the spelling of the words is a problem, and I have been trying to get them to use the orthography I developed in my PhD study. It is very interesting to see the enthusiasm. I can't remember anything like it when I was doing my study of the language.

The Gayo dictionary Facebook Group is here (requires membership of Facebook to view). There is a map of Takengon and the Gayo area here and English language blogs developed by Gayo speakers here and here.


Peter K. Austin
Department of Linguistics, SOAS
18 October 2009

On Tuesday 6th October at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, the Sorosoro Project of Fondation Chirac held a press conference and launch of their new website (currently only available in French but with English and Spanish versions in the works). The launch was hosted by Rozenn Milin, Director of the Sorosoro project, and attended by ex-president Jacques Chirac, who gave a thoughtful speech about the need to preserve and support linguistic and cultural diversity.


Peter K. Austin
Department of Linguistics, SOAS
17 October 2009

The Department of Linguistics at SOAS and the Subject Centre for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies are jointly organising a workshop on teaching linguistic fieldwork and sustainability on Friday 4th December 2009. The workshop is intended for both experienced and novice lecturers and students of Field Linguistics, and will introduce them to knowledge and skills from a wide range of areas in linguistic theory and practice, with a focus on learning about "real world" language problems and solutions.

The workshop is aimed at students interested in learning more about fieldwork, and staff who are considering how fieldwork might fit into the linguistics curriculum. There will be two strands – one for beginners who are interested but have no experience of fieldwork, and one for advanced who have some fieldwork experience or have participated in a field methods course. For beginners, we will cover a range of fieldwork types, including language documentation and urban sociolinguistic fieldwork. For the advanced group topics will include language and culture documentation, sustainable documentation methods and phonetic fieldwork.

Presentations will be given by staff and post-graduate students from SOAS, Queen Mary University, Manchester University and Edinburgh University.


Aidan Wilson went up to Pine Creek and Kybrook Farm in the Northern Territory last week to deliver the various versions of the Wagiman electronic dictionary to the Wagiman community. You can read about it at the Project for Free Electronic Dictionaries blog.

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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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