« Announcement — Consortium on Training in Language Documentation and Conservation - Margaret Florey | Blog home | Book announcement "Endangered Languages of Austronesia" - Margaret Florey »

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

In a few weeks' time reports and powerpoints on the ELIIP workshop will be up on the ELIIP website for discussion.

I took away memories of the beauty of the mountains and saltlakes, the strange comfortableness of bison, and a slight increase in knowledge about the Latter Day Saints - how can one not feel sympathetic to the nineteenth century Welsh Mormon who set sail for Zion equipped with an English and Welsh dictionary.

There’s a lively group of people at the University of Utah working on native American languages (from Brazil north to Ojibway). One project that especially struck me was a Shoshone outreach program. Several Shoshone were at the ELIIP workshop. Last year 10 Shoshone high school students came to the Center for a six week summer camp funded by a donation from a local mining company. In the program they learned some Shoshone language, as well as crafts from Shoshone elders. The students worked as paid interns to do some work on language documentation and prepare language learning material in Shoshone. It was a great introduction, not only to language documentation but to university life generally. What a good idea!]

Back to the workshop. Yes we need something like ELIIP - a list of endangered languages with information about them and pointers to other sources about them. But it won't work unless it is aimed at more than just linguists. And it must point to rich information. And it must be inclusive. And it must be simple to use. And, since there is very little money around, it must be designed to have as low maintenance costs as possible.

Summing up, I’d say the workshop allowed various ideas to gel about what the one-stop shop for languages would look like. I thought the most important were:

  • Avoid duplication. A lot of work has already gone into collecting material. Don’t waste it.
  • Data-freshness. People will be drawn to the site if they believe that the data is fresh, rich and reliable.
  • ...comes at a cost Whatever’s built has to be updatable and maintainable at minimal cost. So maintaining links - even with a web crawler - is beyond many sites
  • Buy-in If it’s to work, lots of communities, archives and linguists need to be able to add in material easily and to feel that it belongs to all of us
  • Simple interface for searching AND for uploading. This means paying for good design and testing with a range of users. Maybe there’ll be several interfaces for different types of user.
  • Wish-things
    • There was a strong swell of opinion in favour of digital archives where people could deposit digital data files and update information easily
    • Snapshots in time People will want to know what a language was like 10 years ago, 20 years ago - how many speakers, did children speak it and so on.
    • Localisation How to translate the material into other languages for countries where outreach on the importance of helping speakers keep their languages is really needed? Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Pidgins and French may be the main lingua francas for some of these areas.
.

A divide was proposed by Gary Simons between curated web services (where people create data and people manage that data) - like Wikipedia - and aggregating web services (where automatic harvesters harvest data from archives, libraries etc) - like Google. I think the consensus was that we needed both - linking to information that is out there, and filling in the gaps.http://www.language-archives.org/OLAC/metadata.html

Aggregation means work for existing archives as well as for ELIIP. If an archive’s data is to be harvested, it has to be accessible to data harvesters. And access has many levels - first, knowing that it is there (e.g. via a URL which builds in the ISO code for the language). Getting language cataloguing information (metadata) in a shape that is harvestable is hard and time-consuming, as was noted by researchers and archivists wrestling with OLAC and IMDI metadata. And then if you want to go beyond a link, there’s extracting the information from the page itself. (I liked the way WALS ( The World Atlas of Language Structures) allows going to actual references on GoogleBooks or equivalent).

What kind of interface? It has to be simple - for searching, for uploading data, and for commenting on existing data. We suggested a basic interface (possibly offered by another organisation - e.g. Sorosoro. Doug Whalen suggested a hinged model - one underlying database which could be expressed as a UNESCO list for policymakers, one for ELIIP researchers, one for the general public, and lots of community portals for communities.

On community portals, I was impressed by the way the DoBeS people can generate semi-automatically community portals from the material in their archive - an advantage of having highly structured data in the first place. E.g. Dane-zaa Community Portal to facilitate the use of the archive collected by the DoBeS team together with the elders. An interactive community portal the community members could customise and manage would be great.

Simple interactivity is important - free form comments are easier than web forms but the information has to go to the right people and this can be tricky when there are thousands of different right people for different questions. Hans-Joerg Bibika brought up the WALS database where they have thousands of comments which can be made on any data point or set of datapoints. He thinks that roughly 60% of commenters are linguists, 30% noise and 10% native speakers. It is a blog system. The 65 authors of WALS are linked via RSS feeds and because it's their chapters they have some incentive to correct mistakes. Having public tracking keeps the administrator honest. And it turned out to be simple to implement.

Wikipedia cropped up many times. It has superb page rank and data freshness. BUT ... a number of drawbacks were noted, many by Doug Whalen. Regular Wikipedia doesn't support heaps of links and for data richness we need that. It doesn’t go for original research (it wants citations) and people are loathe to put work into something which some non-specialist can then change. Only 700 languages or so have pages, and who would create the others? Cold hard truth crept in here, researchers live from recognition. Getting them to maintain a language site requires some incentive other than a sense of virtue. So there needs to be some minimal recogition of people who do contribute information - whether by authoring chapters as in WALS, or by having a public list of regional editors which people can then cite as indicative of community/research service

Wikipedia has only one level of access, with widely varying types of information, and so it can be rather daunting for Joe User. Various suggestions were batted around. One was having basic and advanced interfaces. Another was creating a template for language entries in Wikipedia, with automatic links to ELIIP and Ethnologue, and suggestions of archives. A promising line of enquiry for more reliability is a more controlled type of Wiki, such as Wiki-Species (also easier to translate as you can see from the list which includes Eald Englisc).

Anyway, many ideas - watch ELIIP's space!

Comments

maybe Scholarpedia is a better model than Wikipedia?

Several people have also brought up Wiki Species as a potential model, both for the taxonomic organisational aspect and for content.

Thanks for this summary Jane! For those of us looking on from afar, it's much appreciated.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Enter the code shown below before pressing post

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.
More

FAQ

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

Links

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

Projects

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