Spreading the word

At the Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB) conference held at the University of Essex last week, there was a discussion session with Professor Shearer West, recently appointed Director of Research at the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). During the discussion she emphasised that “knowledge transfer” is now an essential expectation of all AHRC grant applications, where “knowledge transfer” means “ensur[ing] that the research we fund can be used to make a difference beyond academia”. Apparently the AHRC feels that researchers in Arts and Humanities in the UK have been traditionally rather poor at disseminating their knowledge outside the ivy towers and wants to push them more in this direction. Specifically, this includes:

  • promot[ing] the interests of arts and humanities research and its value to our social, economic and cultural life
  • increas[ing] the amount of high quality research supporting special exhibitions, resdisplays and conservation

“Well”, I thought, “the first of these is the kind of thing I have been banging on about for the last several years under the banner of communicating about our work, including events like our annual Endangered Languages Week at SOAS, and my recent Top 10 Endangered Languages on the Guardian website”. (More on the second bullet point in a later post).
As it happens, I am presenting a public lecture next month that fits squarely under the first “knowledge transfer” point (blog readers who will be in London at the time are most welcome to come along!).

Public Lecture followed by Reception
From Ainu to Zaozou: Language Diversity in Asia
Professor Peter K. Austin
Wednesday 1st October 2008, 6:30 PM – 7:45 PM
Location: Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP
There is an increasing concern about the evolution of languages in this increasingly globalised world. Will most of the minority languages just disappear? Paradoxically, the past five years have seen a surge in minority language research in Asia, uncovering exciting new information about language diversity, family classification and migrations of peoples. Professor Austin will present these recent findings using multimedia illustrations, maps and audio-visual recordings and describe how communities are attempting to revive their disappearing languages and cultures.
Reception sponsored by Thames and Hudson.
Asia House Friends & Concession £5
Others £8
For booking please call 020 7307 5454 or email enquiries AT asiahouse.co.uk

Apart from the value of disseminating knowledge about language diversity and endangered languages to a wider public, it seems that this kind of activity will now also get us brownie points when it comes to grant applications. Way to go AHRC!

2 thoughts on “Spreading the word”

  1. I like it. It would be excellent if this principle of ‘knowledge transfer’ were extended beyond grant applications and into academia at large. One of the reasons I’m such a supporter of Language Log is that the contributors provide free information for non-specialists on matters relevant to language in a way that’s accessible without being dumb. That’s no small thing. The site isn’t ‘branded’ with a university logo either. In an environment where the mantra is publish, publish, publish (in specialised journals of course) I do wonder how much support these linguists get from their institutions in terms of time and recognition.
    By the way, the last part of this post appears mangled in firefox. [Thanks Piers, I hope it’s better now that I’ve deleted my editorial attempts at border-creating…Jane ]

Here at Endangered Languages and Cultures, we fully welcome your opinion, questions and comments on any post, and all posts will have an active comments form. However if you have never commented before, your comment may take some time before it is approved. Subsequent comments from you should appear immediately.

We will not edit any comments unless asked to, or unless there have been html coding errors, broken links, or formatting errors. We still reserve the right to censor any comment that the administrators deem to be unnecessarily derogatory or offensive, libellous or unhelpful, and we have an active spam filter that may reject your comment if it contains too many links or otherwise fits the description of spam. If this happens erroneously, email the author of the post and let them know. And note that given the huge amount of spam that all WordPress blogs receive on a daily basis (hundreds) it is not possible to sift through them all and find the ham.

In addition to the above, we ask that you please observe the Gricean maxims:

*Be relevant: That is, stay reasonably on topic.

*Be truthful: This goes without saying; don’t give us any nonsense.

*Be concise: Say as much as you need to without being unnecessarily long-winded.

*Be perspicuous: This last one needs no explanation.

We permit comments and trackbacks on our articles. Anyone may comment. Comments are subject to moderation, filtering, spell checking, editing, and removal without cause or justification.

All comments are reviewed by comment spamming software and by the site administrators and may be removed without cause at any time. All information provided is volunteered by you. Any website address provided in the URL will be linked to from your name, if you wish to include such information. We do not collect and save information provided when commenting such as email address and will not use this information except where indicated. This site and its representatives will not be held responsible for errors in any comment submissions.

Again, we repeat: We reserve all rights of refusal and deletion of any and all comments and trackbacks.

Leave a Comment