Author Archive

Introducing the Langtang collection – voices from the recent past

A new collection archived with Paradisec (LAN1) provides documentation of the language of Langtang in Nepal. Langtang’s already small population was heavily affected when the earthquake in April 2015 triggered landslides in the Langtang valley; many of the voices in this collection are of those who died in the landslides. This project demonstrates that good documentation can be done by community members and non-linguists with the support of archivists and data managers.

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Photo taken be Kartok Lama

While the Langtang region is well-known to as a trekking destination in Nepal, almost nothing is known about the people who live there, the language that they speak, and its relationship to other Tibeto-Burman languages. The ethnic Tibetan Langtangpa population have called the valley home for at least 4 centuries and speak a language that shares features with those of their Kyirong neighbours in the north, and Yolmo neighbours in the south. Continue reading ‘Introducing the Langtang collection – voices from the recent past’ »

Open Access Publishing: A LIPIL discussion

Jonas Lau recaps last week’s Linguistics in the Pub in London (LIPIL), a monthly informal gathering of linguists to discuss topical areas in our field.

The first LIPIL gathering of the new year was held on 26th of January in a new location, The Duke, which is also planned to be the location of future meetings. Researchers, faculty and students of SOAS attended the event, which was mediated by Lauren Gawne.

This month’s topic dealt with the advantages as well as the difficulties and problems caused by open access publishing. We specifically focused on open access publishing, although the discussion is obviously closely related to issues in open access archiving and open access data sets. Among the participants, different perspectives on the topic were represented: While some linguists considered themselves primarily as consumers of (open access) publishing, others could contribute their own experiences having worked as publishers and/or editors.

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Urban Fieldwork: A LIPIL discussion

Martha Tsutsui recaps last week’s Linguistics in the Pub in London (LIPIL), a monthly informal gathering of linguists to discuss topical areas in our field.

The third LIPIL gathering was held at The Perseverance on November 10, 2015. Mediated by Charlotte Hemmings a gathering of linguists assembled to discuss the topic of “urban fieldwork”.

First to be considered was the question “what is urban fieldwork?” Several definitions were put forth and discussed. Some suggestions included fieldwork done “in city centres”, “in dense areas of immigrants/expats/displaced peoples”, or “in multilingual and multi-ethnic areas”. The issue of what makes urban fieldwork specifically urban was also examined. Is it the size of the city? The lifestyle of the inhabitants? The degree of cosmopolitanism? Can urban fieldwork be done in rural areas if the speakers are members of diaspora groups? The existence of pockets of diaspora groups in rural areas with limited contact was mentioned. Would fieldwork with such groups nevertheless be considered “urban”? Many members agreed that the term “urban fieldwork” is most usefully viewed as a relative term, on a continuum rather than as a dichotomy of “urban” vs. “rural” or “urban” vs. “in situ”.

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Why document endangered languages? A LIPIL discussion

Martha Tsutsui recaps last week’s Linguistics in the Pub in London (LIPIL), a monthly informal gathering of linguists to discuss topical areas in our field.

The second Linguistics in the Pub in London (LIPIL) event was held on October 6th at The Perseverance and was attended by students and faculty from SOAS and other nearby universities. The discussion topic of the evening was “Why Document Endangered Languages?” Everyone present agreed that documenting languages was generally a good idea, but had different reasons for supporting this activity.

Throughout the discussion, common misconceptions about language loss and language documentation were brought up. Group members report finding that the general public can often be short-sighted in regards to the issue and often react with remarks and sentiments of “why bother?” In part, it is this public lack of understanding that hinders the fight for endangered languages. Continue reading ‘Why document endangered languages? A LIPIL discussion’ »

Fieldwork in multilingual communities: A LIPIL discussion

Lauren Gawne recaps last week’s Linguistics in the Pub in London (LIPIL), a monthly informal gathering of linguists to discuss topical areas in our field.

Our first LIPIL was well attended, with participants from the African Multilingualism conference and ELDP training joining London locals. In keeping with the theme of the conference, we discussed language documentation in multilingual contexts. The conversation involved a number of researchers who focus on documenting language use in multilingual communities. Members of the Crossroads project at SOAS and Pierpaolo Di Carlo from SUNY Buffalo shared their experiences in an African context, and Ruth Singer from Melbourne University shared her experience in Australia.

Many of those present at LIPIL who now work with multilingualism started out documenting a particular variety of a language of the area, often the ‘ancestral code’. The move to thinking about multiple languages often came about in an attempt to better capture the daily communicative realities of individuals. This is a major research transition if the attempt is to be done well.

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Introducing LIPIL: Linguistics in the Pub in London

Linguistics in the Pub (LIP) expands beyond Australia, with Linguistics in the Pub in London (LIPIL). Our first LIPIL will be:

Fieldwork in multilingual communities (Guest participant Dr. Ruth Singer)

Date:             Monday 7th September 2015
Time:             6:00 – 8:00 pm
Venue:           Upstairs room, The Lamb (94 Lambs Conduit Street, Bloomsbury, London, WC1N 3LZ)
Food and drinks available at the venue.

Contact Lauren Gawne with any questions: lg21@soas.ac.uk
You can receive future LIPIL announcements by signing up to the RNLD mailing list: http://www.rnld.org/node/5

UPDATE: We now have a LIPIL Facebook page for updates, and you can RSVP

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Crowd Sourcing: LIP discussion

Lauren Gawne recaps last week’s Linguistics in the Pub, a monthly informal gathering of linguists in Melbourne to discuss topical areas in our field.

The topic of crowd sourcing is one that relates to many industries, and almost all participants in this month’s LIP have had some experience of crowd-sourced projects from the perspective of being part of the crowd. In this discussion though, we looked at the topic of crowd-sourcing specifically within the domain of endangered language documentation. This topic has two related, but distinct, facets. The first is the sourcing of funding from the crowd and the second is the sourcing of labour. We discussed both topics, and the benefits and down-sides we saw arising from each.

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Models of community engagement: LIP discussion

Lauren Gawne recaps last week’s Linguistics in the Pub, a monthly informal gathering of linguists in Melbourne to discuss topical areas in our field.

Our final LIP for 2013 came at the end of 3 days of the PARADISEC conference, and we were fortunate to be joined by a diverse group of linguists from across the world who were able to contribute new perspectives from their fieldwork experiences. The topic of discussion was the documentation of cultural events, and what this task might mean for our research practice, and for the communities we work with. As usual, if you have another perspective on the topics covered feel free to add them in the comments below. Continue reading ‘Models of community engagement: LIP discussion’ »

Models of community engagement: LIP discussion

Lauren Gawne recaps last night’s Linguistics in the Pub, a monthly informal gathering of linguists in Melbourne to discuss topical areas in our field.

This month’s discussion focused on the ways in which we engage with the speakers of the languages that we study. The general understanding of community engagement was work that you do that doesn’t necessarily directly benefit your own linguistic goals, but which will be of benefit or interest to the speakers you work with. Not all engagement is the same though. We had a range of experiences to draw on – although what is always readily apparent in these conversations is that every field site and group of speakers offers a unique situation. As always, please feel free to leave your own experiences in the comments below to broaden the conversation!
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Building and using corpora from language documentation corpora: A LIP discussion

Lauren Gawne recaps the April edition of Linguistics in the Pub, a monthly informal gathering of linguists in Melbourne to discuss topical areas in our field.

Last month we focused on outputs from language documentation projects that could be of use to the language-speaking communities we work with, and a wider audience. This month, inspired by the LD&C special publication on the Potentials of Language Documentation) we turned to looking at how the same projects could also be used for research beyond the immediate scope of the initial documentation project. This discussion took in a wide range of areas –  including returning to older data, the kinds of projects that can be undertaken when revisiting existing corpora and the realities of building a corpus during a documentation project.
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