Counting Collections

As will be clear to regular readers of this blog, we are concerned here to encourage the creation of the best possible records of small languages. Since much of this work is done by researchers (linguists, musicologists, anthropologists etc.) within academia, there needs to be a system for recognising collections of such records in themselves as academic output. This question is being discussed more widely in academia and in high-level policy documents as can be seen by the list of references given below.

The increasing importance of language documentation as a paradigm in linguistic research means that many linguists now spend substantial amounts of time preparing corpora of language data for archiving. Scholars would of course like to see appropriate recognition of such effort in various institutional contexts. Preliminary discussions between the Australian Linguistic Society (ALS) and the Australian Research Council (ARC) in 2011 made it clear that, although the ARC accepted that curated corpora could legitimately be seen as research output, it would be the responsibility of the ALS (or the scholarly community more generally) to establish conventions to accord scholarly credibility to such products. Here, we report on some of the activities of the authors in exploring this issue on behalf of the ALS and discuss issues in two areas: (a) what sort of process is appropriate in according some form of validation to corpora as research products, and (b) what are the appropriate criteria against which such validation should be judged?

“Scholars who use these collections are generally appreciative of the effort required to create these online resources and reluctant to criticize, but one senses that these resources will not achieve wider acceptance until they are more rigorously and systematically reviewed.” (Willett, 2004)

Read more

FEL call for grant applications

The Foundation for Endangered Languages has just announced that its 2012 grant application round is now open. Priority will be given to projects that focus on the revitalization of endangered languages and support the use of endangered languages in various spheres of community life (home, education, cultural and social life). Any language documentation proposals must … Read more

LDD 11 now available for order

Volume 11 of Language Documentation and Description is now available for pre-publication order from the SOAS online store at GBP 10, a 25% discount off the regular price. Copies will be shipped in early December. Volume 11 is edited by Peter K. Austin and Stuart McGill and is a collection of papers dealing with several … Read more

Every Language Matters

On Friday this week (9th December, 4-7pm) the Endangered Languages Project at SOAS is participating in the national ESRC Festival of Social Science going on throughout the UK and aimed at highlighting for the general public the work that is being done in the Social Sciences. Our event is called Every Language Matters and will … Read more

London tweets

Language diversity in the city of London is in the news again due to a research project by Ed Manley and James Cheshire of University College London (UCL) on posts on Twitter collected over the summer just ended. To identify the languages in their collection of tweets they used: “the Chromium Compact Language Detector – … Read more

ELDP Grant Round 2013 – Call for applications

The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) at SOAS offers one granting cycle for 2013. The grant round opens next Monday 15th October 2012 10am (BST) and closes on 15th January 2013, 5pm (GMT). The key objectives of the ELDP are: to support the documentation of as many endangered languages as possible to encourage fieldwork on … Read more

Crowd-sourcing and Language documentation: September LIP

Ruth Singer recaps some of the interesting points of the last week’s Linguistics in the Pub, an informal gathering of linguists and language activists that is held monthly in Melbourne The most recent LIP included a demonstration of the Ma! Iwaidja phrasebook and dictionary app developed by the Minjilang Endangered Languages Publication project (publishing as Iwaidja … Read more

Signs of change?

London is about to experience Olympic fever again with the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games taking place tonight. Already disabled athletes have started appearing in the city and interacting with locals and other visitors. The Paralympics provide a great occasion to focus attention on the issues and difficulties faced by disabled people across the … Read more

Kim Scott and the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project

Kim Scott gave a talk in Melbourne last night titled “Language & Nation”. (you can see a video of the talk here). His writing has won the Miles Franklin Literary Award, Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, Commonwealth Writers Prize, and Western Australian Premier’s Book Award among other honours. Last night he described the way in which his work has been intertwined with a rediscovery of the rythms and meanings of his ancestral language, Nyungar, from Albany in Western Australia. He works with the Wirlomin Noongar Language and Stories Project to, as he put it, ‘creep up on an endangered language’ through community meetings, creating artwork, and visits to country.

Read more