26th Linguistics Symposium 2011


Zahrani Spoken Arabic: is it endangered? What shall we do?

Salih J. Alzahrani

University of Newcastle

It is widely expected that a majority of human languages will face death in the coming centuries (e.g. Krauss, 1992). Austin (2010a) lists 7,000 languages as existing and spoken in the world today. Krauss estimates that this figure could decrease to 600. That is, most of the world's languages are endangered. A language's decline can start slowly but usually suddenly becomes rapid towards its extinction (Dorian, 1981). Thus, languages must be protected at a much earlier stage.

Arabic dialects such as Zahrani Spoken Arabic (ZSA), spoken in the southern region of Saudi Arabia, have not yet been studied. Few people speak ZSA, and many of those people are moving to other regions in Saudi Arabia where other dialects are spoken. So, is this dialect endangered? What are the factors that contribute to its endangerment? What shall we do?

This paper gives a brief history of ZSA, and exhibits ZSA as a member of other Saudi dialects comparing its situation with the whole existing group of dialects. It then shows the first beginnings of its decline, giving the main reasons which may lead to its death. After that, it considers all the possibilities which can be done to protect the language.

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Socializing Yiddish Metalinguistic Community Members through the Embodied Construction of Yiddish Source Languages as "Resources" or "Rivals"

Netta Avineri, C. Phil.

University of California, Los Angeles

This paper examines how instructors and students within contemporary secular Yiddish educational contexts construct Yiddish source languages (including Hebrew, German, and Slavic languages) as "resources" or "rivals". Yiddish, meaning "Jewish" in Yiddish, has been spoken by millions of Ashkenazic Jews since approximately 1000 C.E. Due to the Holocaust, migration to and assimilation of large numbers of Jews in America and other countries; and the state of Israel's choice of Hebrew over Yiddish or other Jewish languages as the official language of the nation, the number of Yiddish speakers within the secular Jewish community has greatly diminished. Discourse and conversation analysis of interactions within Yiddish classrooms, programs, and cultural events in Los Angeles, the Bay Area, and New York, demonstrate that instructors' differential embodied stance (Goodwin 2007, DuBois 2007, Jaffe 2009) displays toward lexical and phonological alternatives derived from various source languages are one practice through which students are socialized into the Yiddish metalinguistic community and by extension an imagined nationhood of the Jewish diaspora.

Building upon the notions of speech community (Gumperz 1968, Duranti 1997, Morgan 2004), linguistic community (Silverstein 1998), local community (Grenoble and Whaley 2006), and discourse community (Watts 1999), this broader research project analyzes heritage language socialization practices and central features that create what I have termed a "metalinguistic community," a community of positioned social actors primarily engaged in discursive practices about both an 'endangered' language and cultural symbols tied to that language (e.g., food, music, theater, family histories). "Metalinguistic community" provides a theoretical framework for examining the cultural features of endangered language communities, contexts in which participants may feel a strong connection to an endangered language but may lack familiarity with the language and/or its speakers.

Within the Yiddish metalinguistic community, participants are frequently socialized into language ideologies over language use. Language courses regularly become vehicles for concentrated instruction to younger generations about the language community's past (and lost) history and culture. The example included below, from a first-year Yiddish course where the teacher is drawing a family tree, illustrates the central socialization practice of embodied stance displays toward Yiddish source languages. One student asks how to say cousin, after which follows a metalinguistic presentation regarding two options for the lexical item, "cuzin" and "shvester kind". At lines 14 - 17, the instructor engages in an elaborate stance display practice regarding a standard Yiddish word derived from German. Though technically standard Yiddish is what is being taught in this class, the teacher's negative embodied stance towards the standard (and by extension German) communicates a different message. In contrast to the construction of German-based words as rivals, frequently Hebrew and Slavic languages are constructed as resources upon which students can depend when determining the meaning of words in Yiddish.

This paper provides a unique perspective on one socialization practice within the context of a metalinguistic community constructed around an endangered heritage language. Analysis of source languages' differential construction as resources versus rivals demonstrates how languages themselves can themselves deployed as objects in the ongoing projects of constructing both past and present communities.

Example 1:

01 St1: How would you say cousin.
Lines skipped
06 Tea: We left that one out. [Cousin.] ((swings right arm)) Okay.
07 St2: [Cuzine.]
08 Tea: Yeah that's one easy way I like that one. ((points to student
09 with left hand))
10 All: ((Laughter))
11 Tea: Uh [di di ] cuzine=
12 St3: [cuzina]
13 St4: ºcuzin.
14 Tea: =or cuzin. (0.1) Der cuzin di cuzine. (.) ~But, there's another
15 way,~ ((scrunches face)) (.) which is in ((brings left hand down))
16 standard Yiddish which I hapt- I happen to (.) dislike
17 ((shakes head)) very much.
18 St1: Hmh
19 (0.3) ((Tea takes eraser with left hand, erases something on
20 board))
21 Tea: But it's there.


DuBois, J. (2007). "The stance triangle." In R. Englebretson (Ed.) Stancetaking in discourse: Subjectivity, Evaluation, Interaction. John Benjamins Publishing Company. pp. 139-182.

Duranti, A. (1997). Linguistic Anthropology. Cambridge University Press.

Goodwin, C. (2007). "Participation, Stance and Affect in the Organization of Activities". Discourse & Society 18(1): 53-73.

Grenoble, L.A. and L.J. Whaley (2006). Saving Languages: An Introduction to Language Revitalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Gumperz, J.J. (1968). The Speech Community. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 381-386. New York: Macmillan.

Jaffe, A. (Ed.) (2009). Stance: Sociolinguistic Perspectives. Oxford University Press.

Morgan, M. (2004). "Speech Community". In A. Duranti (ed.) A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology. Blackwell Publishing.

Silverstein, M. (1998). "Contemporary Transformations of Local Linguistic Communities." Annual Review of Anthropology 27: 401-426.

Watts, R.J. (1999). "The social construction of Standard English: Grammar writers as a 'discourse community'". In T. Bex and R. Watts (Eds.) Standard English: The Widening Debate. London/New York: Routledge, 40-68.

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Bahasa Indonesia Jaman Sekarang / Today's Indonesian Language. Shifting Language Preferences in Indonesian Metropolitan Centres

Jay A. Babcock

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Hening D. Paramita

Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia

In this paper, the authors will first present theories of shifting language preferences in Indonesia; second, demonstrate the impacts upon residents of the capital city of Jakarta; third, suggest cultural and linguistic impacts of languages shifting from local to national to foreign; and, finally, make recommendations for future research. Artifacts, such as magazine articles, websites, etc. will demonstrate ways in which Indonesians' expectations of the world have been influenced by global languages; and, how changes in grammatical and syntactical structures alter information and epistemologies. Recent changes in government policies will also be included as evidence of an official response to the language shift.

The fourth most-populous nation, Indonesia has more than 300 distinct ethnicities and more than 700 local languages spread out over 17,508 islands. United into a colony by the Dutch, the nation won independence from Japan in 1945. Bahasa Indonesia - a language constructed from a dialect of Malay (Austronesian) - was made the official language. Bahasa Indonesia has been strongly influenced by other languages for reasons economic, cosmopolitan, cultural, and religious. Those very influences are what now put the language at risk.

Globalization and influences from English-speaking nations have altered the cultural and linguistic landscapes of Jakarta. Bolstered by economic partnerships, neo-colonialism has found its way into both the education system and popular beliefs exemplifying cosmopolitanism. The beliefs that speaking English will improve a person's job prospects; provide avenues for communication; and, present the speaker as intelligent, well-educated and of a higher social class are all factors contributing to the decline of Bahasa Indonesia. Furthermore, the popularity of musicians, movie stars and other cultural elements borrowed from other nations also makes English more appealing, trendy and fashionable.

The effects of such a switch may be deeper than surface-level, however, and could leave Bahasa Indonesia as a mark of low social status for its speakers, or possibly as the beginning of something new. Indonesia has formed positive and progressive relationships with English-speaking nations, but risks becoming dependent upon those nations economically, culturally, and even linguistically - compromising their Indonesian heritage in the process. A hybrid Indo-English language would have the potential to keep knowledge and thinking from the original language, but also have the danger of alienating itself, as it would not be understood by other English-speakers, and divergent from its heritage. The combination of these effects could leave the next generation of Indonesians struggling with their identities as bilingual 21st century citizens.

The authors will close the paper with suggestions for future research in the areas of language hybridization involving Bahasa Indonesia, the effects of government policies, and more in-depth analysis of how English is taught and its relationship(s) to Bahasa Indonesia within the school system.

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neetawaapantamaanki iilinwiaanki: Searching For Our Talk

Daryl Baldwin

Miami University, Ohio

The Myaamia (Miami) language is a language native to the states of Indiana and Ohio. Its last speakers passed in the early 1960s leaving the Myaamia people without an im-portant cultural resource. But since the early 1990s a language and cultural revitalization movement has been growing among members of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. An important element of this effort is the relationship the Miami Tribe has with Miami University located in Oxford, Ohio. Beginning in the early 1970s, Miami University and the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma have been developing a relationship, which has grown significantly over the years. In 2001 the Tribe and university came together and jointly created the Myaamia Project in order to respond to the language and cultural research needs identified by the Tribe. The Myaamia Project is a unique collaboration of tribally directed research located within a university setting designed to specifically respond to tribal needs while involving a variety of campus departments and students. This presentation reflects on the growth of our twenty-year effort in language revitalization and captures communal benefits and the impacts of language and cultural education on the identity of a new generation.

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Identity as a tool in language maintenance: The case of Veneto in Mexico

Hilary Barnes

Fayetteville State University

This paper examines the language maintenance situation of Chipilo, a Veneto-Spanish bilingual community of immigrant origin in central Mexico. Generally, immigrant communities undergo language shift within three generations, however in Chipilo, Veneto is still the first language of many bilinguals in the community. It is the first language of many children and is the dominant language for many speakers. Veneto continues to be an integral part of life in Chipilo even though there are no monolingual speakers in the community and Veneto is not taught in the schools. Italian heritage is seen throughout the community in cultural artifacts, such as the names of restaurants, stores, and streets, the frequent use of Italian soccer jerseys and Italy stickers on automobiles, as well as the local cuisine. Thus, unlike many other instances of language contact in Mexico, both community languages are ascribed high prestige, therefore slowing the process of language shift from the immigrant language to the national language. Chipilo was founded in 1882 by a homogenous group of approximately 560 immigrants from Veneto-speaking towns in northern Italy as a result of colonization efforts on the part of the Mexican government. During the initial years the town remained relatively isolated and the linguistic homogeneity of the group allowed for the continued use of Veneto as the preferred language of intra-ethnic communication. Today, changing social conditions brought about by the proximity of Puebla, the fourth largest city in Mexico, and an increase in contact with Spanish and mainstream national Mexican culture affect the language maintenance observed in Chipilo. Previous research has offered socio-historical and sociolinguistic overviews of the community however much of this work was conducted during the 1980s when Chipilo first re-established contact with Italy during their centennial celebration (Sartor and Ursini, 1983; MacKay 1992; Romani 1992; Zago 2007). The present study is based on fieldwork conducted in 2008 and 2010 and explores language attitudes and the relationship between language and identity in Chipilo through the use sociolinguistic interviews.

Previous studies by the author have examined differences in language use patterns and language attitudes across different gender, age, and L1 groups. Results reveal significant differences between men and women and across age and L1 groups with respect to language use patterns and attitudes towards both Spanish and Veneto. Interestingly, across age groups, younger generations view Spanish as less important to the community and identify less with Mexican culture than older generations. This is attributed to the positive prestige associated with Veneto and the strong link between Veneto and ethnic identity that persists today in the distinction between chipileños and mexicanos. The present study explores this link between Veneto language and Chipileño identity by examining data from sociolinguistic interviews. Results show a resistance to fully assimilate or integrate (Berry, 1990) into mainstream Mexican society and a desire to distinguish the in-group from the out-group. By maintaining a Chipileño identity, these speakers form part of an exclusive group which requires ethnic heritage to be a member. Moreover, the out-group also views the Chipileños as belonging to a distinct group, thus enhancing Chipileño identity. In recent years, frequent contact with Italy, including visits to and from Italy, has also led to the increased sense of Chipileño identity. In spite of this contact and the strong presence of cultural artifacts, many speakers do not consider themselves Italian, but rather Chipileño. In other words, the relinquishing of Italian identity and the attendant adoption of Chipileño identity has provided further reinforcement of pride and language maintenance in Chipilo.


Berry, J. W. (1990). Psychology of acculturation. In J.J. Bremen (ed.). Nebraska Symposium on Motivation. Vol 37. 201-235. Cross-Cultural Perspectives, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

MacKay, C. (1992). Language maintenance in Chipilo: a Veneto dialect in Mexico. International Journal of Social Language, 96, 129-145.

Romani, P. (1992). Conservación del idioma en una comunidad italo-mexicana. México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.

Sartor, M. and Ursini, F. (1983). Cent'anni di emigrazione: una comunitá veneta sugli altipiani del Messico. Treviso: Grafiche Antiga. Zago Bronca, J. A. (2007). Los Cuah'tatarame de Chipíloc. 2nd edition.

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Anaphora and the discourse functions of the applicative e- in Ainu

Keiko Beers

University of New Mexico

Several recent studies have recognized the functional role of applicative constructions within discourse (Donohue 2001; Gerdt and Kirosawa 2007; Mithun 2001; Peterson 2007). The most widely recognized function associated with this valence increasing operation is its ability to allow a speaker to signal that the promoted oblique is playing a prominent role within the discourse. Applicative constructions in Ainu (a language isolate spoken in parts of Hokkaido, Japan), which are derived by the verbal prefixes e-, ko- and o-, corroborate this prototypical discourse function. However, the data also provide evidence suggesting that, in many cases, applicative morphology in Ainu deviates to varying degrees from the prototypical function. This is especially the case with the applicative e-, the primary focus of this paper.

My findings, which are based on the analysis of applicative constructions occurring in fifteen different narratives told by Ito Oda, a speaker of the Chitose dialect of Ainu (Bugaeva 2004), suggest that the applicative e- can play various additional anaphoric functions within discourse. Refsing (1986) and Bugaeva (2004) briefly note similar observations in their respective grammars of Ainu, as well. In the first case, applicatives in Ainu, most frequently e-,can refer to an overt nominal occurring earlier in the discourse as demonstrated in (1), indicating the continued salience of the previously established discourse participant. In the second and third cases, the applicative e- is found to anaphorically refer to an entire preceding clause as in (2), or an inferred, overarching event as in (3) (i.e., the applicative cannot be said to refer to a specific overt nominal or clause). In terms of discourse function, the applicative formations seen in (2) and (3) are shown to denote the results of some event. These findings suggest that Ainu uses applicative morphology in a manner which may be unique to the language or that applicatives, cross-linguistically, may play a wider range of discourse functions than previously recognized.

  1. a-onaha cihok-i Ø-Ø-se wa
    1SG-father 1PL.TR.S-buy-NR 3.S.3.O-carry.on.one's.back and
    My father put on his back the goods [lit. buy-things] for trading and

    Ø-Ø-rura Ø-Ø-rura wa or-o-wa
    3.S-3.S-carry 3.S-3.O-carry and there-POSS-and
    went to the beach carrying [them]. He carried and carried [them], then
    cip Ø-Ø-e-sik-te wa
    boat 3.S-3.O-INSTR.APPL-be.full-CAUS and
    He filled the boat with [the goods], then
    he put so many goods that the boat was full (p. 313).
  2. We kept drinking and at the end of the drinking party the Jay Man danced out of the room. He was outside for a short while and returned alone.
    sine nisew num... Ø-Ø-e-kupa kane ... Ø-hosipi wa Ø-ek na...
    one acorn grain 3.S-3.O-head.of-hold.in.mouth while.CONJ 3.S-return and 3.S-come FIN
    Holding a single acorn by its tip in his mouth, [the Jay Man] returned.
    kamuy opitta... Ø-Ø-e-mina-re
    God all 3.S-3.O-RESLT.APPL-laugh-CAUS
    He made all the gods laugh because of [that] (pp. 166-7).
  3. Then they said, "We'll honor the Fly God." I was honored and given a lot of various food, inaw, rice-wine.... They carried for me a lot of various food[s] to my house, various inaw [whittled prayer sticks given as offerings to gods], and rice-wine.
    a-Ø-e-yay-kamuy-ne-re kor Ø-an
    1SG.TR.S-3.O-RESLT.APPL-REFL-god-COP-CAUS and 3.S-be
    It happened that I became a god because [I had been properly worshipped by the Ainu] and it was so (p. 181).


Bugaeva, Anna. (2004). Grammar and Folklore Texts of the Chitose Dialect of Ainu (idiolect of Ito Oda); Endangered Languages of the Pacific Rim Publication Series A-045. Suita: Osaka Gakuin University.

Donohue, Mark. (2001). Coding choices in argument structure; Austronesian applicatives in texts. Studies in Language 25.2: 217-254.

Gerdts, Donna B. and Kaoru Kirosawa. (2007). Discourse functions of Salish applicatives. In Donna B. Gerdts and Kaoru Kirosawa (Eds.), Salish Applicatives, pp. 1-27. Boston: Brill Academic Publishers.

Mithun, Marianne. (2001). Understanding and explaining applicatives. Papers from the regional meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society 37: 73-97.

Peterson, David. (2007). Applicative Constructions. NY: Oxford University Press.

Refsing, Kirsten. (1986). The Ainu Language: The Morphology and Syntax of the Shizunai Dialect. Aarhus: Aarhus University Press.

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Gendered Language Ideologies and Language Shift: An Issue for Hmong in North America?

Susan Meredith Burt

Illinois State University

Ever since Gál (1978) demonstrated a stronger attraction for women to the language of wider communication in the shift from Hungarian to German, researchers in language shift and revival have encountered examples of similar gender differentials, including some where gendered ideologies of language apparently exert influence on the rapidity of shift (or on the success of maintenance). Kulick (1992, 1998), for example, suggests that the association of Tok Pisin with education, cooperation, progress and masculinity may have increased the attraction of that language over the indigenous language Taiap, which is associated with traditional practices, anger, ignorance, and women. In the shift from Mexicano to Spanish, Hill (1998) found men to be proponents of the "discourse of nostalgia" for Mexicano ritual expressions of respect, while women were likely to engage in a "counterdiscourse" that expressed skepticism towards the nostalgic attitude. Echeverria (2003) found school textbooks in Basque to promote a male-centered view of Basque nationality, while Cavanaugh (2006) documents the relative invisibility of women in attempts to revive and maintain the Bergamasco dialect in the face of shift to standard Italian. All of these examples show gendered language ideologies playing a role in the process of shifting (or resisting shift) from an indigenous language to a language of wider communication.

This paper raises the question whether a gendered language ideology might play a similar role in the shift process resulting from migration, specifically for the shift from Hmong to English currently under way in Wisconsin. Data from a discourse completion task given to Hmong-American women and men in two generations show that young men are more likely to perform one speech act type as older men do than young women are to emulate older women. Responses from another section of the data show evidence of different evaluation between older and younger women of the situation described in the prompt. Finally, evidence from Hmong-American expressive literature in English shows that changing gender roles and relationships remain a focus of concern for Hmong-Americans, and suggests that the two languages in contact, Hmong and English, may have acquired indexical links to gendered stereotypes.


Cavanaugh, Jillian. 2006. "Little women and vital champions: Gendered language shift in a Northern Italian town." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 16(2):194-210.

Echeverria, Begoña. 2003. "Language ideologies in (en)gendering the Basque nation." Language in Society 32(3):383-414.

Gal, Susan. 1978. "Peasant men can't get wives: language change and sex roles in a bilingual community." Language in Society, 7:1-16.

Hill, Jane. 1998. "'Today there is no respect': Nostalgia, 'respect' and oppositional discourse in Mexicano (Nahuatl) language ideology." In Language ideologies: Practice and theory, Bambi B. Schieffelin, Kathryn A. Woolard and Paul V. Kroskrity (eds), 68-86. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kulick, Don. 1992. Language Shift and cultural reproduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kulick, Don. 1998. "Anger, gender, language shift, and the politics of revelation in a Papua New Guinean village." In Language ideologies: Practice and theory, Bambi B. Schieffelin, Kathryn A. Woolard, Paul V. Kroskrity (eds.), 87-102. New York: Oxford University Press.

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Documentation and revitalization of a seriously endangered language

Krishna Prasad Chalise

Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu

This paper aims to present the experiences and achievements we have had from Linguistic and Ethnographic Documentation of the Baram Language (LEDBL) project which we successfully accomplished recently. This project (2007-2010), was a Major Documentation Project (MDP) hosted by Central Department of Linguistics, Tribuvan cuniversity and funded by Endangered Languages Documentation Program (ELDP), SOAS, University of London. The Baram language is a Tibeto-Burman language spoken only in two remote villages of Gorkha District in the western part of Nepal by less than 50 speakers (the youngest speaker is over 50 now) only in a limited domains of language use.

Our experience is that revitalization should be made an indispensable part of a language documentation project. The general concept, "An endangered language is documented and the record is deposited in an archive and different types of people use it for different purposes before and after the death of the language." sounds pessimistic with regards to the endangered languages. It asserts that every endangered language will certainly die. We think death is not the ultimate fate of the endangered languages, they can be revitalized again.

Language documentation needs to be optimistic in principle and problem-solving in methodology. It should help an endangered language promote revitalization. In our context, a language documentation project should be designed to include the following stages:

  1. The reasons for the endangered status of the language(s) should be investigated.
  2. The process of how the language can be revitalized should be identified.
  3. Language documentation should be carried out to build a corpus for archiving as well as to produce the tools that can be useful to solve the identified problems.
  4. With the help of the tools, steps for language revitalization should be initiated.

In this paper we have tried to describe how we dealt with the different aspects of language documentation and justify our experiences with concrete examples from the project.

The first part of the paper is about the structure of the project and experiences about it with discussion how we designed our project in our context to make it a success. It presents the project as a whole system and then identifies its components as the parts of the system. After that, how the different components interact in a language documentation project is presented.

The second part discusses our experiences and achievements about the following aspects of language documentation.

  1. Designing a language documentation project (project structure, the project partners: roles and relations)
  2. Building a corpus (recording, analysis and archiving)
  3. Producing resources (grammar, dictionary, textbooks, ethnographic sketch, etc.)

The third part is about the actions taken for language revitalization (formal and non formal classes, community awareness, language resource centre, language tourism, etc.)

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Passing on the parcel: A proposal for the revitalization of Fuzhou Dialect

Shuiping (Heather) Chi

University of Pennsylvania

Fuzhou Dialect, spoken only in Fuzhou City of China, is a solely verbal-based tongue resembling significant differences in phonetic features from Mandarin. This unique local dialect is believed to have its root in the language spoken in Tang Dynasty nearly 1400 years ago. The socio-cultural and linguistic heritage it bears is profound. However, with fewer and fewer Fuzhounese from the younger generation being able to speak this tongue, Fuzhou Dialect is at the verge of dying out.

This paper analyses two major causes of the endangerment of Fuzhou Dialect: First, the inequality between the local dialect and the dominant languages such as standard Mandarin and English within the social discourse. Second, the popular ideology among the local residents that fluency in Fuzhou Dialect, especially from an early age, is likely to affect a child's ability to obtain the accurate articulation of Mandarin and English.

Based on the former researches worldwide and the lived-experience of the author, the paper argues that languages are not to be judged only by its short-term value, and that the proficiency in one more tongue is more likely to facilitate rather than to impede one's ability in acquiring other languages.

The paper then provides possible methods that could be applied to achieve the revitalization of Fuzhou Dialect:

  1. To raise the prestigious image of Fuzhou Dialect and the self-esteem of its speakers by community language education and the inclusion of Fuzhou Dialect into local mainstream media.
  2. Set up local language preservation organizations in the five main districts of Fuzhou; get connected with and learn from the language preservation organizations worldwide.
  3. Develop Fuzhou Dialect with current trends, adapting new social and technological terms into the dialect to keep it alive.

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The Hungry and the Full: Documenting and Analyzing Mlabri Discourse on Food

Isara Choosri

Mahidol University

Mlabri is an endangered language spoken by about 400 people in northern Thailand and Laos, whose traditional way of life had been based on hunting and gathering in the forest and occasional exchange forest products with villagers (Oota, et al. 2005). In such a sociocultural condition, security of food supply and food sharing are apparently the primary concern among the people. In fact, searching and/or sharing of food constitute a recurring theme found in a variety of Mlabri texts (Sakamoto, 2005). Opposite situations of having not enough to eat and then being provided for by one's neighbors or kinsmen, or having gone to the forest empty-handed and then discovering some sorts of food, are characteristic of the polar structure frequently found in Mlabri discourses on food. These discourses depict the traditional life of the Mlabri before they are forced by modernity to turn to cultivators and/or farmhands.

This paper attempts to describe the ongoing documentation of Mlabri food vocabulary and discourse, and to analyze the use of polarities, which is realized either lexically by means of antonymy (Lehrer and Lehrer 1982) or grammatically by means of negative-affirmative distinction, as a linguistic device to convey the 'food' theme in Mlabri discourse, which usually moves from a desolate beginning to an expectedly joyful ending. In this paper, the role of lexical relations in discourse (Murphy et al. 2008) is emphasized and assumed as an alternative way to explore the structure and meaning of the text, which in turn could tell us something about the food culture of the Mlabri people that is now in danger of disappearing.


Lehrer, A. and Lehrer, K. 1982. Antonymy. Linguistics and Philosophy 5: 483-501.

Murphy, M. L., et al., Introduction: Lexical contrast in discourse. J. Pragmatics (2008), doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2008.09.035

Oota, H., et al. 2005. Recent Origin and Cultural Reversion of a Hunter-Gatherer Group, Public Library of Science Biology, 2005 March, volume 3, number 3. www.plosbiology.org

Sakamoto, H. (Ed). 2005. Mlabri text. Kyoto: Nagamishi Printing. ELPR Publications Series A3-017

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Colonialism, Nationalism and Language Vitality in Azerbaijan

John M. Clifton

Summer Institute of Linguistics International and University of North Dakota

While language shift has led to language endangerment and even death in many areas of the world, it has resulted in stable multilingualism in other regions. Mufwene (2008) accounts for the differences in terms of language ecology, that is, the different functions played by competing languages within the linguistic environment. Mufwene further argues that a major factor contributing to language ecology is differences in patterns of colonization. Settlement colonization has led to profound language endangerment in the Americas and Australia, while exploitation colonization has led to multilingualism in Africa.

In this paper I examine the language situation in Azerbaijan, a country of approximately 8.8 million people located in the southern Caucasus. Azerbaijan provides a good testing ground for theories regarding the relationship between multilingualism, language shift and colonization.

First, I show that a complex linguistic situation has led to extensive language contact. Azerbaijani, a Turkic language, is first language for a large majority of the population. However, Azerbaijan is also home to approximately a dozen indigenous Iranian and Caucasian languages. The number of members of each of these other ethnic communities ranges from between 1000 to as many as a half-million. This mosaic of languages has resulted in widespread multilingualism.

Second, I show that the patterns of colonization, first by tsarist Russia and then by the Soviet Union, cannot be neatly classified as either settlement colonization or exploitation colonization. As is common in settlement colonization, long-term communities of Russian-speaking families were established in Azerbaijan. These communities, however, were localized, generally in urban centers.

Furthermore, the Russian colonizers worked primarily through relatively small numbers of local Azerbaijani/Russian bilinguals. These patterns of settlement and language use are characteristic of exploitation colonization.

Findings of field research conducted from 1999 to 2002 indicate that most heritage languages were still vital in at least a significant core region. Furthermore, language communities that did shift moved to Azerbaijani, not Russian. This is the pattern Mufwene expects for exploitation colonization, and suggests the mere long-term presence of communities of families is less important to the ecology of language than are patterns of settlement and language use by the colonizing power. Maintenance of heritage languages is particularly significant in light of the fact that these languages had no place in government or education. While bilingual education included heritage languages in many places in the USSR, it did not for speakers of most less-widely-used languages in Azerbaijan. More recently, the shift towards Azerbaijani has accelerated. Parents in a number of areas with traditionally high levels of heritage language use are now speaking to their children in Azerbaijani. This is in spite of the fact that the constitution protects the rights of communities to use their heritage language, with the government even supporting the development of literacy materials in these languages. Speakers still value their heritage language, and want their children to learn it, but expect them to learn it outside the home. The acceleration towards Azerbaijani seems to be tied to the fact that since independence in 1991, Azerbaijani has not had to share official functions with Russian, and has become more important for employment. Nationalism, then, is playing a role similar to that traditionally played by settlement colonization.

I finish by outlining ways in which we are working with local communities to strengthen the heritage languages when this is desired by the local community.


Mufwene, Salikoko S. 2008. Language evolution: Contact, competition and change. New York: Continuum.

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Strategies of Revitalization: negotiating best practices in diverse contexts

A panel organized by Eda Derhami

University of Illinois at U-C

The panel includes three papers which address issues related to the process of revitalization of languages in diverse sociolinguistic contexts (India, the US, and Italy). Three different successful strategies for linguistic revitalization, and their complex cultural and sociolinguistic contexts, in comparison with other less successful or failed attempts for linguistic revitalization of endangered minority languages, are discussed in this panel. These studies underline the main perspectives for endangered languages illustrated in Flores Farfan and Ramallo 2010 (p. 147): they focus on issues that "position threatened language-speakers at the forefront of the action", and are "context sensitive sociolinguistic studies... that contribute to the emancipation of linguistic communities".

The first paper focuses on ethnic ideologies for Sanskrit in India, vs. religious rituals among the US Indian minorities, as different revitalizing strategies, and argues for the need to investigate shared features of diverse revitalizing strategies in order to arrive at a theory of revitalization across contexts. The second paper, on the other hand, focuses on the critical analysis of India's linguistic policies regarding India's 196 endangered languages, scrutinizing the "Three-Language-Formula" policy as an insufficient governmental solution, and introducing more successful revitalization practices in India. The third paper underlines the role of local media, specifically a small newspaper, as a very successful revitalizing strategy and tool of linguistic reconstruction. It focuses on the endangered Arberesh language spoken in Sicily, and the extraordinary efforts and mobilization of the speech community through the newspaper Mondo Albanese.

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PAPER 1 of the Derhemi panel

Different contexts, different strategies: Revitalization of Sanskrit in India and the US

Rajeshwari V. Pandharipande

University of Illinois at U-C

Current discussion on revitalization of languages (minority/endangered) has singularly concentrated on the causes for language attrition and loss versus motivations and strategies for good practices and thereby their revitalization. However, research has not significantly focused on the comparison between the strategies of maintenance and revitalization of the same language in mutually exclusive social contexts. This paper investigates the strategies of revitalization of Sanskrit, (the classical Indo-Aryan language) in India as well as in the US to demonstrate that a) the strategies in the two contexts significantly differ from each other, b) the differences can be attributed to the difference in the social motivation and need for its revitalization in India and the US, c) the structure/function of the language undergoes change in the process of its revitalization. Theoretical and empirical implications of this investigation will also be discussed.

The paper will be divided into three parts: in part one, I will present the situation of reduced scope of use of Sanskrit in India, where Sanskrit has been marginalized from the curriculum in schools/colleges, and in the domain of Hindu practices.

However, in the 21st century, it is being revitalized in the context of the government's official context of administration, and in the media. In this post-independence era (after 1947), there is emphasis on creating indigenous Sanskrit/Sanskritized vocabulary (in the register of government correspondence) to replace their English counterparts, which have been used during the British rule. Additionally, Sanskrit is being used in the government media (news broadcast on the TV), where the daily news is delivered in Sanskrit to strongly stress indigenous identity of the majority of the Indian population.

In part II, I will discuss the strategies of revitalization of Sanskrit in the US Sanskrit is being revitalized in Hindu rituals unify the linguistically, and nationally diverse Hindu community of immigrants, which share the common heritage of the Sanskrit language (Pandharipande 2001, 2010).

In part III, I will compare the above mentioned strategies in two mutually exclusive social contexts, the structural difference between the two "revitalized incarnations" (forms) of Sanskrit and argue that the investigation of revitalization of languages should aim at identifying the common feature of diverse strategies used in diverse contexts in order to construct a unified theory of revitalization. My data show that the strategy of revitalization succeeds if the language is (re) assigned a function, which it uniquely performs. I have already proposed the theory of "Transparency" of language to its function when it is the only language which performs the function) as the strong assurance of its sustenance (Pandharipande 2002: 216). I will discuss the evidence in favor of this proposal. Implications of this proposal for the theories of language loss and revitalization will be examined in this context.


Pandharipande, Rajeshwari,V. 2001. Constructing Religious Discourse in Diaspora: American Hinduism. In B.B. Kachru and Cecil Nelson(eds), "Diaspora,Identity,and Language Communities". Studies in Linguistic Sciences. 31(1) pp. 231-52

Pandharipande, Rajeshwari,V. 2002. "Minority Matters: Issues in minority languages in India". In UNESCO's MOST Journal on Multicultural Societies Vl. 4, N. 2, PP 215-237.

Pandharipande, Rajeshwari,V. 2010. Authenticating a Tradition in Transition:Language of Hinduism in the US. In The Sociology of Language of Religion: Change,Conflict and Accommodation. Omoniyi, T.Palgrove MacMillan. PP 58-83.

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PAPER 2 of the Derhemi panel

'Three-Language-Formula' and Maintenance of Indigenous Linguistic Diversity in India: Crisis and Aftermath

Anik Nandi

University of Santiago de Compostela

In my study I discuss the decay and loss of tribal languages in India. This will be examined with reference to the existing models of multilingual education policies: three-language-formula (L1, L2 and English) and Mother-Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTBME) leading to an examination of the larger issue of extinction of linguistic diversity in Indian multilingual context. During this comparative analysis of different strategies of revitalization, the study emphasizes the most successful practices in different sociolinguistic contexts.

A number of India's regional and tribal languages are at present in a threatened category. Out of 3372 mother tongues in India only 22 have official status. There are 613 tribal communities and they speak around 304 mother tongues. As the UNESCO records go, India has 196 endangered languages, most of them having tribal origin.

The official language policy of India Government – the three language formula – continues to be a muddle because in the representative Indian society more than three languages coexist. Today in India more than 90% of tribal children read in 58,343 primary schools (grades I–V) and 103,609 primary schools have over 50% of tribal enrolment. Paradoxically, through the influence of so-called mother-tongue-medium teaching in three-language-formula a tribal child receives instructions only in the national or the dominant regional language instead of his/her mother tongue. So, there is a gradual decline, an inevitable language shift, and finally the extinction of a tribal language. This has been a recurrent phenomenon in Indian multilingual scenario. Present situation naturally demands an examination of the existing language policy afresh.

Since 2004 Mother-Tongue-Based Multilingual Education (MTBME) has been introduced in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa where, according to 2001 census, around 6.59% and 9.7% respectively of the total tribal population of India reside. In 2007, 200 schools in Orissa have started MTBME in the first grade with tribal children from 10 different language groups. In 2008, 16 more languages have been added to the programme. In Andhra Pradesh, Multilingual Education that has been implemented in 220 schools incorporates 8 tribal languages from grade I to V. In these states MTBME has not only reduced the percentage of dropouts and repetition among tribal children considerably but also made schooling more comprehensible and relevant to them. It is thus logical to conclude that MTBME could provide a possible and healthy solution to the hindrances relating to the maintenance/revitalization of tribal mother tongues in India.


P. Sengupta (2009). 'Endangered Languages: Some Concerns'. Economic & Political Weekly. vol .xliv. no. 32.

Mohanty, A. K. (2006). "Multilingualism of the Unequals and Predicaments of Education in India: Mother Tongue or Other Tongue?" In Ofelia García, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, and E. Torres-Guzmán (eds). Imagining Multilingual Schools. Languages in Education and Glocalization. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, pp. 262-83.

Ishtiaq, M. (1999). Language Shift among the Schedule Tribes of India. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers: Delhi

Census of India, 2001. Government of India. On Internet: http://www.censusindia.gov.in/ [Search: 21/03/10]

MLE status report on Andhra Pradesh and Orissa by UNICEF founded National Multilingual Education Resource Centre in JNU, India. On Internet: http://www.nmrc-jnu.org/nmrc_publications.html [Search: 21/03/10]

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PAPER 3 of the Derhemi panel

Local minority media as a best practice in linguistic revitalization: the case of Arbëresh in Sicily

Eda Derhemi

University of Illinois at U-C

This is a case study regarding the special role local media can play in the process of revitalizing endangered languages of small and very small speech communities, which usually remain out of the attention of significant institutional linguistic policies and also of the dominant media. The study analyzes the multifaceted linguistic role of a small community newspaper, "Mondo Albanese" (MA), published between 1981 and 1984 in the community of Piana degli Albanesi (Piana), Sicily. Piana is a small town inhabited by 7000 people, most of which have some knowledge of Arbëresh, an Albanian dialect of the 15th century. In the 2010 Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages, Arbëresh is characterized as "definitely endangered" (Moseley. 2010: 236). The use of Arbëresh varies greatly, from full competence to the use of only a few ritualistic expressions, with the young and the newcomers in this last pole of the range. The study investigates various revitalization strategies implemented in this community and language before and after 1984, concluding that the specific sociolinguistic context of Piana and the particular circumstances and causes of linguistic endangerment there make the mobilizing linguistic action of MA the most effective strategy for linguistic revitalization (for a history of the definition of 'linguistic revitalization' see Huss 1999: 24). Analyzing recent community efforts to revive the newspaper in the context of new social media, the study also discusses from a theoretical perspective, the viability of such efforts for linguistic maintenance and revitalization.

The first section discusses a brief history of Arbëresh and features of its endangered state, and critically examines different community and institutional steps towards linguistic revitalization during the last four decades. Then the paper focuses on the way MA, a small, amateur community financed newspaper, against all odds, became indirectly the most successful tool in both major dimensions of planning: status and corpus planning. This section, through a combination of discursive analysis and media content analysis, analyzes the role of MA as a linguistic institution that shaped and changed the community perception of the language, built a new group of community leaders, served as a community platform for lexicography, orthography and dialectology studies, and above all as a space for the use of the endangered Arbëresh by community members of all ages as writers and readers of Arbëresh. Its impact on the mobilization of Piana's community with regard to their language and culture, was unprecedented. As Romaine maintains: "...grassroots initiatives are often more effective than top-down directives" (2002: 11). The use of the local newspaper MA in Piana is one of the revitalization strategies that demonstrates that best practices arise as "revitalization... and mobilization are addressed initially within the communities" (Dorian. 2010: 41) with endangered languages. It should be promoted and supported as one of the successful "new traditions of language use (that) are developing and growing" among communities with endangered languages (Hale. 1998: 213).


Dorian, N. 2010. "The private and the public in documentation and revitalization", in New Perspectives on Endangered Languages, Flores Farfan, J. and F. Ramallo (Eds.). John Benjamins Publishing Company: Amsterdam/ Philadelphia. (29-49)

Hale, K. 1998. "On endangered languages and the importance of linguistic diversity", in Endangered Languages. Grenoble, L. and L. Whaley (Eds.). Cambridge university Press.

Huss, L. 1999. Reversing Language Shift in the Far North – Linguistic Revitalization in Northern Scandinavia and Finland. Uppsala.

Moseley, C. 2010. Encyclopedia of the World's Endangered Languages. Routledge: London and New York.

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Cognitive Fire: Language as a Cultural Tool

Daniel L. Everett

Bentley University

The presentation begins by making the case that culture is causally and architectonically implicated in grammars, lexicons, and languages more broadly. It next argues that since linguistic forms and meanings are shaped by culture then fuller understanding of individual languages will depend on understanding each language and culture together. Fieldwork must therefore engage the culture-language relationship. This has important implications for the conduct of linguistic field research.

Moreover, if a culture-language symbiosis exists, then each language-culture pairing is unique and the loss of knowledge, human and scientific, threatened by the endangerment of any pairings becomes acutely urgent and important for those threatened and human understanding more generally.

In this talk, a novel definition of culture as "ranked values" is proposed, along with new methodologies and results for understanding the culture-language interface. A new model of language as a cultural tool is presented as a means to better understanding languages and the significance of language death.


Everett, Daniel L. 2008. Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle. Vintage & Pantheon.

Everett, Daniel L. 2012. Cognitive Fire: Language as a Cultural Tool. Pantheon.

Sakel, Jeanette and Daniel L. Everett. 2011. Linguistic Fieldwork: A Student Guide. Cambridge University Press (Red Series).

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Training as empowering social action: An ethical response to language endangerment

Carol Genetti

University of California, Santa Barbara

One of the most heartening developments in the global effort to document and revitalize languages has been the increasing recognition of the importance of training for the maintenance of linguistic diversity. There is now a wide variety of training programs attested across the globe (although they do not come close to addressing the level of need). Increasingly, training is being both developed by and aimed at community-based language activists, with the goal of helping communities to develop the capacity to maintain or revitalize their languages. There are now many inspirational stories of success, and these serve as motivating forces for others. The Consortium for Training in Language Documentation and Conservation is a nascent organization designed to promote training, build networks, and maximize the training resources that are being developed.

Training activities complement and reinforce work in language documentation and conservation, so constitute a third axis in the field's response to language endangerment. Training is inherently empowering, where empowerment in part involves a "social action process that promotes participation of people, organizations, and communities towards the goal of increased...control, political efficacy, improved quality of community life, and social justice" (Wallerstein 1992: 198). It therefore resonates with calls in the ethics literature for empowerment research paradigms (e.g., Grinevald 2003, Rice 2006, Czykowska-Higgins 2009); however, training does not constitute research per se, although it may involve or create research opportunities. Training has as its central goal capacity development as opposed to inquiry, and it is typically community-external and for short duration. Training entails a significant shift in the relationship between academic and community partners, with academics providing resources, skills, and opportunities that allow communities to meet their internally established goals. Training, like work in language revitalization, is thus on the social action end of the research-action continuum. Linguistics, in moving in this direction, follows trends in other disciplines (Flyvberg 2001, Schram and Caterino 2006) in addressing social problems and injustice.

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Unanswered questions about language revitalization: New directions for research

Lenore A. Grenoble

University of Chicago

A number of different models for language revitalization have been implemented in dif-ferent speech communities in different parts of the world. To date, there have been few studies of why some programs appear to be successful while others do not. Rather, there is anecdotal information that some groups abandon revitalization in frustration, while a few others are showcased as model exemplars of success, but little hard data has been provided for either case. In fact, there has been little discussion of how to evaluate the success of any given program, or even of how to define success in the context of revitalization. In the present talk I call for such research and present models for how it might be conducted, correlating program goals with a variety of extralinguistic factors. Specifically, how do we assess language revitalization? How do we determine when to shift goals and refocus efforts? And when do we move from revitalization to maintenance? Despite the fact that these questions may lead to uncomfortable results, we need to ask them to understand how to best serve our revitalization efforts: we need to understand successes and failures in order to create positive programs in a broad array of settings. We need to understand commonalities and differences in order to es-tablish realistic goals and means of achieving them. I further advocate potentially more controversial research into the new, emergent languages that emerge from language contact and, possibly from revitalization programs themselves. I argue for the im-portance of avoiding linguistic purism and propose that in many cases unintentional purism may stand in the way of "successful" revitalization; in fact, these emergent new languages may prove to be useful, even key, to successful revitalization.

One final consideration is the impact of revitalization programs on language atti-tudes. How have revitalization programs affected the attitudes of people inside a speaker community? Outside of it? Anecdotally, they seem to have a positive effect on community members, and perhaps no effect otherwise. Is this true? Can these changes in community attitudes (if they in fact exist) be leveraged in some way to better support revitalization and to better offset negative factors? Can external attitudes be changed? Have shifts in attitudes had an impact on domains of usage? Can we move toward multilingualism, away from monolingualism?

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Endangered Languages: Local and Global Perspectives

K. David Harrison

Swarthmore College and National Geographic Society

Language "endangerment" and "extinction" have become leading metaphors for under-standing and raising public awareness about a complex global trend, and have also re-prioritized the discipline of Linguistics. These notions also resonate with the lived experiences of language survivors, people who may be among the last speakers, and who may also be struggling to maintain, remember or revitalize fading tongues. My talk examines two personal perspectives on language survival, that of the field linguist set-ting out to learn and document languages, and that of expert (and possibly last) speak-ers. I argue for the importance of understanding languages holistically, in their environment, in order to adequately document the lexicon and the grammar, and to appreciate the human knowledge base. I also examine potentially effective means for aiding language survival, from oral to digital. These include online talking dictionaries that enable small languages to cross the digital divide, as well as epic tales and hip-hop that strengthen oral traditions. Case studies include Siletz Deeni (Oregon), Matukar Panau (Papua New Guinea), Chulym (Russia), Koro Aka and Remo (India), and Monchak (Mongolia).

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Reporting on a Native Speaker - Linguist Collaborative Project: Creating a Hoocąk Textbook

Iren Hartmann

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Cecil Garvin

Ho-Chunk Nation

It is the aim of all most language documentation projects to produce materials that are not only useful to scientists, but also to the speech community. However, this often proves to be a difficult task. While different types of dictionaries and story collections are somewhat "natural" products of a language documentation, a language textbook or pedagogical grammar is usually not. Not only is the production of teaching and study materials very time consuming, but it also involves a process of decision making that cannot be done by the researcher alone. In order for teaching materials to be successful, the community has to be involved at all levels of their creation, therefore cooperation of the researcher and community members is essential.

In 2008 and 2009 two people (with the help of many others) embarked on the journey to producing a Hoocąk language textbook together. The goal of this native speaker and linguist co-operative project was to produce a language textbook and appropriate study and assessment materials which could be used in community classes as well as in the public education system.

In our presentation we will reflect upon the process of creating successful teaching materials, both from a native speaker's and the researcher's perspective. Throughout the process of creating these materials, it has become apparent to us that a certain amount of "standardization" (e.g. 'Which orthography should be used?') has to take place in order to ensure consistency and efficiency. The community's needs and expectations play a crucial role in this process. We will present some of these decision making processes together with their sometimes surprising results. We will also argue that the production of teaching materials should not be a mere byproduct of language documentation, but rather play an important role in it, as it can substantially contribute to the language documentation itself. Examples for this will also be shown.

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Documenting Iriga Agta

Jesus Federico C. Hernandez

University of the Philippines

Louward M. Zubiri

University of the Philippines

Headland (2003) notes that a fourth of the languages spoken in the Philippines today, those spoken by a Negrito phenotype and collectively labeled as Negrito languages, are all endangered. This paper focuses on one of these languages, the Iriga Agta, spoken by the Negritos living on Mt. Asog and nearby areas.

This study is divided into two parts. It documents and provides an investigation of the linguistic features of this language in a brief grammatical description or a grammatical sketch and it also looks into how this language is currently used in everyday life.

Reid (1994b:470) observes that the Negritos living in the northern region of the Philippines are "multilingual, speaking not only their own language but also Ilokano and Tagalog, as well as one or more of the regional languages adjacent to their hunting range." This phenomenon is not unique to the northern group but can be observed in other places as well. In the case of the Iriga Agta, most of its speakers also spoke the regional lingua franca, Bikol, and two other languages, Rinconada and Buhinon, which are spoken by low-land Christian communities surrounding Mt. Asog. In addition to these languages, Filipino is also taught in schools.

Language contact, language displacement and "linguicide" are factors that were identified and investigated on in this paper that contribute to the rapid demise of Iriga Agta. These factors shape and continue to reshape the domains and arenas where Iriga Agta is used. The paper also examines the related concepts of prestige and language loyalty and the erosion of these values in the Agta community. Analysis of narratives and functional usage of the language helped identify the prevalent attitude concerning the outlook of Iriga Agta.


Anderson, V. & Anderson, J. (2007). Pangasinan --- An endangered language? Retrospect and prospect. Philippine Studies, 55 (1), 116-144. Ateneo de Manila Press.

Headland, T. (2003). Thirty endangered languages in the Philippines. Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session, 47.

Lewis, P. (Ed.) (2009). Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com

Reid, L. (1994a). Possible Non-Austronesian Lexical Elements in Philippine Negrito Languages. Oceanic Linguistics, 33 (1), 37-72.

Reid, L. (1994b). Unravelling the linguistic histories of Philippine Negritos. In Dutton, T., and Tryon, D. (Eds.), Language Contact and Change in the Austronesian World (pp. 443-475). Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin.

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Adventures in "Describing Everything": Two Approaches to Language Documentation in Nepal

Kristine A. Hildebrandt

Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

The Tamangic Tibeto-Burman languages of Manang, Nepal are located in an area of intense within- and cross-family contact, and they also face varying degrees of pressure with respect to their short and long-term maintenance prospects. Such scenarios present simultaneous challenges and opportunities within the realm of documentation, and also raise questions regarding just what the focus (or foci) of documentation efforts should be in contexts of extreme contact and endangerment. This presentation compares and contrasts two different methodological approaches to data collection and analysis of Manang languages, with case studies from Nyeshangte (Manange), Manang-Gurung and Nar-Phu. It considers patterns that may be revealed in these different approaches (ie., their strengths), along with residual issues and gaps (ie., their drawbacks). Both approaches compared here embody Noonan's (2002; 2008) philosophy of "Describe Everything", but they also each require a unique effort and focus, and they call for special relationship dynamics with the speech community. This presentation is not aimed at promoting one approach over the other; rather it advocates for collaborative endeavors (at the researcher and community levels) that involve a carefully considered and measured combination of varied methods.

Approach 1: The (Scary) Treasure-Trove of Connected Speech

The desired documentation method in most endangerment contexts is to record and transcribe as much connected speech as possible for the purpose of long-term archiving, analysis (and potentially revival) once the language is gone. It certainly allows for, among other things, the investigation of form-to-function patterns and the testing against predictions from elicited contexts or in typological schools of thought. A recurrent wrinkle, however, is the ever-present and intimidating potential of conflicting and confusing patterns that emerge from such text analysis. A case currently being grappled with is the distribution of finite and non-finite verbal marking in Nar. Noonan (2003) identifies several subordinate suffixes, in particular -te (determinant/completive) and -pɛ (indeterminant/progressive), and provides a minimal sentence pair to distinguish the determinant from indeterminant:

ŋæ̂-se     lakpɛ-re     ɦîkɛ pɦri-pɛ

1.SG-ERG lhakpa-LOC letter write-SUB
'I saw Lhakpa writing the letter.'
ŋæ̂-se     lakpɛ-re     ɦîkɛ pɦri-te

1.SG-ERG lhakpa-LOC letter write-SUB
'I saw Lahkpa write the letter.'

Some text occurrences of -te reaffirm this function (ex. 2a); however, many other occurrences complicate the predictions, as it may also convey progressive and senses (ex. 2b, c). In still other cases, -te combines with another subordinate suffix -ce, the sequential converb. These contradictory senses suggest a very complex (and thus far unresolved) picture of non-finite verb marking in Nar-Phu, one that will only emerge via careful transcription and analysis of a wide range of texts.

Approach 2: Controlled Elicitation For Instrumental (Phonetic & Phonological) Analysis

While the urge to gather as much language data in-use as possible is a logical one, endangered languages also have micro-level phenomena of theoretical importance, and as such, there are times when focused and specific investigations are needed. A case in point here is the study of tonal contrasts. All Tamangic languages (except Chantyal) possess a four-way lexical tone system. Diachronically, Nyeshangte has phonologized these contrasts somewhat earlier (and differently) than the sister languages. Hildebrandt (2003) established vowel F0 as the main acoustic correlate in Nyeshangte, and also demonstrated the fragility of the tone system across different speech community sub-groupings. But a remaining question is exactly how tone is manifested acoustically in other Manang languages. At this point, the cross-language acoustic picture remains murky, with some indication of F0 and voice onset time correlations in Manang-Gurung, and conversely, vowel jitter correlations with Nar-Phu (Hildebrandt 2009). This presentation considers how methodological considerations have provided an important insight into these complex systems, but also how they have lead to some ongoing analytical hurdles.


Ex. 2: The varying aspect-senses of -te in Nar

a. completive sense

tepe tʃurku-ce orce, kjuŋ-te priŋ-ce
again chemical-DEF like.this, sour-SC put-CC
orce tepe, ŋɦî-je chɛ̂nte toktok sa-ce.
like.this again, 1.PL-GEN cheese big.piece collect-CC
'Again, having put the chemical to make (it) sour, we collect a large portion of the cheese.' (Yaks)

b. progressive sense

tepe ɛ̂khi-ce
tʃû-ce ʈɦwi-te mo   mû. ʃôw-ce
again old.man-DEF   this-DEF pluck-SC be   be. apple-DEF pick-SC
mo mû.
be be
'Again, the old man is picking (apples). (He) is picking apples (while the goat is lead away).' (Pear Story)

c. potential sense

tɦûkpɛ-re pɦak khæ-pe. pweta tɦûkpɛ-ri nemi-ne te khæ-te.
sixth-LOC bring come-NOM. month sixth-LOC forest-ABL return come-SC
'In the sixth month, we (will) return. In the sixth month, we (will) return from the forest.' (Yaks)


Hildebrandt, K.A. 2003. Hildebrandt, Kristine. 2003a. Manange Tone: Scenarios of Retention and Loss in Two Communities. UC Santa Barbara PhD dissertation.

Hildebrandt, K.A. 2009. 'Gurung (Tibeto-Burman) at the tonogenetic crossroads'. Paper presented at the 15th Mid-continental Workshop in Phonology, Bloomington, IN, October, 2009.

Noonan, M. 2002. 'Grammar-writing for a grammar-reading audience'. Invited talk at the Symposium on Grammar Writing, Dallas, October, 2002.

Noonan, M. 2003. 'Nar-Phu', in The Sino-Tibetan Languages, Randy LaPolla and Graham Thurgood, eds. London: Routledge.

Noonan, M. 2008. 'Describe everything!' Invited talk at the Workshop on Language Description, Sept. 2008, Uppsala, Sweden.

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Educational advocacy in the field - a case study

David Huenlich

University of Texas at Austin

This paper considers the role of educational advocacy in documentary linguistics. While social activism usually entails immediate motives for a specific change, educational advocacy is understood here as an empowering offer to a community and is less restricted to a certain outcome. However, involvement with the educational process in a community likewise needs thoughtful motivation. Both social activism and educational involvement can be identified with the more general term of social responsibility.

Social involvement has for centuries been part of linguistic fieldwork, beginning with early missionary linguists. Today, it is understood that, to a certain degree, social responsibility should be incorporated into academic fieldwork where it favors threatened language minorities and fosters ties between linguists and the language communities (Grenoble 1998). Repeatedly, the necessity for such work has been reemphasized in a debate surrounding missionary motivation and tendencies of enculturation in fieldwork (Dobrin & Good 2009, Epps & Ladley 2009). However, sustainable social involvement on behalf of academic fieldworkers is rare. One basic unanswered question is how it can be done. With the restrictions on time, finances and local access that are typical for academics in the field the idea of social responsibility seems overtaxed with expectation.

Solutions might be sought in the cooperation with humanitarian organizations and social enterprises. In a case study, this talk compares experiences and successes with educational advocacy in the field in the rural province of Övörkhangai (Өвөрхангай), Mongolia with future opportunities in the Himalayan region of Manang, Nepal. In 2005, a linguistic expedition was coupled with an exchange program of Boy Scouts in the Övörkhangai Aimag. The interaction of youth leaders, a social entrepreneur, and a linguist on the team sparked the idea of a "teaching library" to provide community children and local teachers with access to books and resources in the English language. The shared understanding was that Western involvement should reciprocate by meeting a pressing educational need in the community, and that any results should be manageable in a sustained way by the community itself. Over five years, the example led to the founding of a Swiss foundation that supports libraries that are managed and financed locally in several Mongolian communities. The project wants to expand its impact by creating Mongolian books and teaching materials, following the example of other Asian literacy and publishing initiatives such as Big Brother Mouse in Laos. In comparison, while research in Manang, Nepal has been ongoing for more than two decades there has not yet been an opportunity for educationally oriented applications of social involvement. A linguistic picture of Manang is beginning to emerge because of descriptive works by Michiyo Hoshi, Michael Noonan, Kristine Hildebrandt and David Hünlich. In the middle of this, the viabilit of these languages is increasingly fragile, and the current time is urgent to consider how socially conscious fieldwork might have a positive impact on language maintenance there. While the option of giving educational support through a "book bridge" seems viable in Manang, it must be carefully evaluated. Important questions to be considered in this talk include: If applied, how can a teaching library serve language maintenance? What educational needs must be met? What materials are appropriate? How will communities run and use a potential library given the political and interethnic framework? While answers will be as specific as possible, the questions are not specific to Manang. They are connected to the shared experience and expertise of fieldworkers, local activists, educators and humanitarian organizations around the globe.


Dobrin, Lise M. and Jeff Good (2009). "Practical language development: Whose mission?" Language 85:619-629.

Epps, Patience and Herb Ladley (2009). "Syntax, souls, or speakers? On SIL and community language development." In Lise Dobrin et al. "Academic priorities, SIL International, and the past and future of linguistics" (set of associated short papers), Language 85(3):640-646.

Lenore A. Grenoble & Lindsay J. Whaley (eds.) (1998). Endangered languages: Current issues and future prospects. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press.


Bookbridge, charitable organization under German and Swiss law

Big Brother Mouse, Lao books for Lao readers

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Inadvertent contextualization: Japanese speaking space in gathering Ikema data

Shoichi Iwasaki

University of California, Los Angeles

Toshihide Nakayama

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

Tsuyoshi Ono

University of Alberta

At the initial stages of fieldwork, we are naturally most conscious about the socio-cultural factors at work. We are very careful in the processes of entering and establishing status in a language community, finding people to work with, and building personal relationships. However, once we establish a relatively stable working relationship with the speakers and get into linguistic work, we seem to have a tendency to relax and fall back on naïve assumptions about the fieldwork situation. That is, we, though unknowingly and unintentionally, tend to treat the fieldwork session as a contextual vacuum where there are no socio-cultural, interpersonal or interactional factors in effect, and to view the speakers as language robots that can mechanically produce and manipulate any linguistic expression upon request.

In this paper, we would like to raise awareness about the various contextual factors that might affect the language use of the speakers and ultimately our data gathering, analysis, and documentation. Specifically, we highlight one particular type of contextualization that we regularly experience or, more precisely, inadvertently create in trying to work on the Ikema dialect of Miyako, an endangered language spoken on Japanese islands near Taiwan (UNESCO 2009; Fija et al. 2009). This is one of the multiple layers of context that constitutes complex fieldwork situations (Dimmendaal 2001; Crowley 2007), and being aware of its presence allows us to be more careful in the ways we gather and interpret data.

Miyako, of which Ikema is one dialect, and Japanese are genetically related and have been in daily contact for the past several decades. People in the Ikema community now speak Japanese more or less fluently, and most young people do not speak Ikema. Ikema and Japanese are in clear contrast in terms of their social status – Ikema without prestige, and possibly with social stigma, is used in vernacular contexts (its use in religious ceremonies is perhaps one exception for this generalization), whereas Japanese with its high social prestige is used in official contexts. This sociolinguistic stratification has been established and reinforced through formal education (Itani 2006; Kondo 2008; Fija et al. 2009).

When we first started our work in the Ikema community, we were met with quiet resistance from the islanders in regards to speaking Ikema. Only after several years of regular visits to the area have we become more successful in having them "produce Ikema". Even then, we are finding that the momentum for speaking and thinking in Ikema is fragile. The binding effect of Japanese is strong: we are increasingly becoming aware of speakers' intuition about the grammatical patterns of Ikema being shaped by Japanese patterns.

Undoubtedly, this interference is partly triggered by our speakers' having to deal with complete outsiders, mainlanders who have little linguistic facility in Ikema. However, we have noticed that the interference problem seems to be less evident when students (both Japanese and foreign) interact with them. It appears that our status is causing a stronger and longer-lasting effect on the speaker; we belong to one of the most exalted types (university professors from the mainland Japan or North America) of shinshii/shiishii 'teacher', the category which is perhaps given the highest regard in the community where most of the Ikema people we deal with, especially elders, have a rather limited amount of schooling. (Elders have up to several years of schooling while younger speakers finished high school.) In fact, our age/gender profiles (male; middle-aged) match the typical image of shinshii/shiishii for the islanders, and our sessions are conducted entirely in Japanese and typically take place at the community centers and houses of prominent members of the community, all of which naturally adds to the official nature of our sessions. Thus, we, though inadvertently, place the speakers in a social, interactional space that strongly favors the use of Japanese, which naturally influences the type of language which they produce for us.

The upshot of the above described situation is that we need to be extremely vigilant in gathering and interpreting Ikema data, as it is easily susceptible to Japanese interference, perhaps due to the genetic relationship and recent history of heavy contact. More globally, however, it is important for us to be aware of the delicate nature of the context of language use and of the layers of contextualization, some of which we might unknowingly trigger but which nevertheless affect the type of linguistic material we obtain.


Crowley, Terry. 2007. Field Linguistics: A Beginner's Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dimmendaal, Gerrit J. 2001. "Places and people: field sites and informants." In: Paul Newman and Martha Ratliff (eds.), Linguistic Fieldwork. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 55-75.

Fija, B., M. Brenzinger, and P. Heinrich. 2009. The Ryukyus and the New, but Endangered, Languages of Japan. The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus 3138.

Itani, Y. 2006. Okinawa no hogenfuda. Naha: Borderink.

Kondo, K. (ed.) 2008. Hogenfuda. Tokyo: Shakaihyooronsha.

UNESCO 2009. Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger.

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Linguistic analysis and the speech community: Referntial hierarchies research and language revitalization

Joana Jansen

Department of Linguistics and Northwestern Indian Language Institute, University of Oregon

In situations where language revitalization is a priority, linguists and speech community members must ensure the current and future usefulness of the data collected. Materials enhancing revitalization are collected via documentation projects as well as projects addressing theoretical or typological goals; revitalization may not be the primary purpose of the work. Recordings and analyses are necessarily put to multiple uses: as resources for learning and teaching language and culture, as sources of historical and cultural information, and as data for linguistic research.

This paper discusses the overlap of linguistic analysis and language revitalization in several communities whose languages are included in EuroBABEL's (Better Analyses Based on Endangered Languages) Referential Hierarchies in Morphosyntax (RHIM) Project. RHIM investigates morphosyntactic systems that are influenced by a hierarchy of referents, such as first and second person ranking over third, humans over non-humans, topical referents over less topical ones. Examples are given below for Sahaptin (Sahaptian). The inverse system of Sahaptin is sensitive to the full hierarchy, with SAP > 3Prox > 3Obv, however, different grammatical systems interact to indicate different subsets of the inverse clause type, where a lower-ranked participant acts on a higher-ranked participant. A combination of SAP clitics, case marking and verb prefixes is used depending on whether the scenario is local (SAP acting on SAP, as in examples 1-2), mixed (examples 3-4) or non-local (3 acting on 3, examples 5-6). In particular, as seen in examples 4 and 6, there are two separate case markers used to indicate a third person agent: the case marker -nɨm is used when the object is a SAP (ex. 4); the case marker –in is used when the object is third person (ex. 6).

The data gathered and resulting analyses support revitalization, even though the RHIM project is typological and descriptive in nature and investigates complex linguistic structures. Research at this level of complexity has traditionally been divorced from revitalization efforts. However, RHIM's findings strengthen revitalization. Without adequate description and analysis of a given structure, accurate teaching materials cannot be prepared. Languages discussed include Sahaptin, Movima (isolate, Amazonian Bolivia) and Blackfoot (Plains Algonquian). The paper also includes a more in-depth look at the Sahaptin inverse system and pedagogical strategies used to teach it.


1. (direct 1A2O)

  Kúmatash tɬʼáax̱w ítɬʼyawita,
  ku=matash tɬʼaax̱w ítɬʼyawi-ta
  and-1>2PL all kill-FUT
  'I will kill all of you'

2. (inverse 2A1O)

  páyshnam chaw pá'ɨnta
  páysh=nam chaw -ɨ́n-ta
  maybe=2SG NEG INV-tell-FUT
  'if you don't tell me.' (q'áxnu.056.057_VBYS)


3. (direct 1A3O)

Cháwnash ánachʼaxi áwítɬʼyawita ḵʼax̱numaman.
chaw-nash ánachʼaxi á-ítɬʼyawi-ta ḵʼáx̱nu-maman
NEG-1SG again 3O-kill-FUT prairie.chicken-OBJ.PL
'I'll never again kill prairie chickens' (q'áxnu.113_VBYS)

4. (inverse 3A1O)

kush kwnak awkú iwawshúwiyana tamanwitmí naktkwaninɬánɨm
ku-sh kwnak awkú i-wawshúwiyan-a tamanwit-mí naktkwaninɬá-nɨm
and-1SG there then 3SG.NOM-examine-PST law-GEN nurse-INV.ERG
'and that's where the government nurse examined me' (tuxamshish.033_VBYS)


5. (direct 3A3O)

iskáwskawna tíin-maman k'usík'usi
i-skáwskawn-a tíin-maman k'usík'usi
3SG.NOM-scare-PST people-OBJ.PL horse
'the horse frightened the people' (BB2.010_ VBYS)

6. (inverse 3A3O)

ku kwnak wítx̱uptin páwɨnpa tíin-maman
ku kwnak wítx̱upt -in -wɨnp-a tíin-maman
and there blizzard-OBV.ERG INV-take-PST people-OBJ.PL
'and there the bitter blizzard caught those people' (tuxamshish.019_VBYS)

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An "endangered" transitory phase in a contact situation

Boglárka Janurik

University of Szeged Department of Finno-Ugric Studies

In my presentation, I study the grammatical structure of intrasentential code-switches in Erzya–Russian bilingual discourse (on the basis of unstructured and structured interviews and spontaneous conversations from 20 Erzya–Russian bilinguals). My aim is to analyze these structures and argue for the emergence of a composite Matrix Language (ML), in which there are more than one language setting the morphosyntactic structure of the CP. In the Matrix Language Frame model (Myers-Scotton 2002), this type of code-switching (CS) is called composite CS. This phase in contact situations can usually be considered transitory. It is essential to study mixed structures typical of this phase, as it provides unique data concerning the languages in contact and as "CS helps to account for what morphosyntactic structures are more likely to be converged and why" (Zabrodskaya 2009: 32).

According to Aikhenvald (2006: 47): "[i]n the situation of one language dominating the others, convergence may involve gradual adoption of the other language's structures at the expense of its own." In the Erzya language, the influence of Russian is especially detectable in the development of gender agreement and the reconstruction of the system of numerals.

Gender agreement occurs in case of auxiliaries, verbs in past tense, and adjectives in a predicate position. In example (1), the code-switched verb form hoťela 'want' has a feminine past marker. It is interesting that the informant uses the feminine verbal form but opts for the masculine variant of the word for 'teacher' (cf. učiťeľńića 'teacher (woman)').

(1)mon uže viška ping-ste hoťe-la uľe-ms učiťeľ-eks
I already small age-ELAT want-PERF.FEM be-INF teacher-TRANSL
'I have wanted to be a teacher since I was small.'

Gender agreement is also possible with adjectives. In example (2), the Erzya subject babam 'my grandmother' or the anaphoric pronoun son '(s)he' has a predicate, the adjective strogaja 'strict', which is marked for gender. The structure follows the agreement rules of the Russian language.

(2)teťa-ń jondo baba-m uľńe-śsonuľńe-śpek strog-aja
dad-GEN side grandmother-PxSG1be-PERF(s)he be-PERF verystrict-FEM
'My grandmother from father's side was very strict.'

Most of the NumP types occurring in the corpus can be considered embedded language islands where the head (the number) has a nominal complement in a form required by the rules of the Russian language, for example, śem'ďeśat vośem' ľet ('seventy-eight years'). In other cases, however, the complement fails to follow the Russian rules and occurs in the nominative case: sorok četiŕe god ('forty-four years', verbatim 'year'). Mixed structures occur when the Russian number is followed by the Erzya equivalent of the word, or if the head is an Erzya number and it is accompanied by a Russian complement. The most interesting instances of mixing are phrases in which the Erzya head has a Russian complement, and its form follows the rules of the Russian language. The phrase kilometra kavto combines the rules of the two languages. In Russian, approximate quantities can be expressed by an inverse order of the head and the complement of the numeral phrase; i.e. the complement precedes the head in these instances, so the Russian form in monolingual speech would be kilometra dva. In Erzya, however, approximation is expressed by the suffix -ška, thus, in standard Erzya, the phrase 'around two kilometers' would be kavtoška kilometrat (the complement is in plural). The word kilometra can either be a nominative as in Erzya or the singular genitive form of the Russian word kilometr. According to the rules of the Russian language, the number 'two' requires its complement to be in a singular genitive form. Anyhow, the phrase in example (3) must be analyzed as a mixed structure as it either adapts to the rules of both languages or to a composite ML.

(3)mińek viŕ-eńeknaverno kilometra kavtoej-ste-ďe-ńek
our   forest-PxPL1perhaps kilometer twous-ELAT-ABL-PxPL1
'Our forest is perhaps two kilometers from us.'

As a further step in my study, I intend to carry out a deeper analysis of mixed structures in the speech of Erzya–Russian bilinguals. I believe that the study of the ongoing change leading towards a composite matrix and a mixed language mode will enhance our knowledge of language contact and languages in general, and most importantly, the structure of the endangered Erzya language.


Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 2006. Grammars in contact: A cross-linguistic perspective. In: Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and R. M. W. Dixon (eds.) Grammars in contact. A cross-linguistic typology. New York: OUP. 1-66.

Myers-Scotton, Carol. 2002. Contact Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Zabrodskaja, Anastassia 2009. Russian-Estonian language contacts: Grammatical aspects of language use and change. [Doctoral dissertation.] Tallinn: Tallinna Ülikool.

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Grammatical Relations in Mixe and Chimariko: Differences and Similarities

Carmen Jany

California State University, San Bernadino

Traditionally, grammatical relations have been explained relying on the notions of subject and object. However, the growing documentation and analysis of endangered and other less commonly studied languages has revealed many unique grammatical systems which can not be explained on the basis of subjects and objects (Dryer 1997). This paper presents two such systems in two different languages (a) a hierarchical system with direct or inverse alignment in Chuxnabán Mixe and (b) a hierarchical system based on agents and patients in Chimariko. Althouth the two grammatical systems are very distinct, they share several properties, including: (1) only one participant is marked or cross-referenced on the predicate, (2) speech-act participants are ranked higher on the hierarchy, and (3) there is no case marking on arguments.

In Chuxnabán Mixe, a previously undocumented Mixe-Zoquean language spoken by nine hundred people in one village in Mexico, the most prominent participant in an event is marked or cross-referenced on the predicate. The hierarchy is determined by grammatical person: 1st > 2nd > 3rd, animacy: animate > inanimate, and topicality: human/topical > human/non-topical. When participants in a clause are such that A outranks O on this hierarchy, there is direct alignment. If there opposite occurs, there is inverse alignment (Dryer 1992, 1994; Gildea 1994; Klaiman 1992; Zavala 2000, 2007; Zúñiga 2006), which is indicated with a special morpheme in Chuxnabán Mixe. Inverse alignment can be used for pragmatic reasons with two human participants where the O is more topical than the A. Unlike Kutenai and Algonquian languages (Dryer 1992, 1998), Chuxnabán Mixe does not have an obviative system marked on nouns.

Typologically, Chuxnabán Mixe is characterized as a polysynthetic and head-marking language with an inverse alignment system and noun incorporation. The data for this paper stems from personal field work including the collection and transcription of oral narratives, as well as the elicitation of phrases.

Chimariko, an extinct Northern California language, also reveals a hierarchical marking system, but it favors speech act participants over third persons: 1st, 2nd > 3rd, in addition to showing an agent patient distinction for first persons. While the hierarchical system is apparent only in transitive clauses, the agent-patient distinction is found in transitive and intransitive clauses. First persons are obligatorily marked either as agents or as patients. This points to subjectivity as a motivation for grammar (Scheibman 2002), and to affectedness as a governing factor for the patient category (Mithun 2008). Agent-patient based and hierarchical argument marking has also been reported for a number of other Native American languages (Mithun 1999, 2008).

The data for Chimariko is drawn from the field notes of J.P. Harrington and the notes of George Grekoff. Harrington collected elicited sentences and oral narratives from several consultants, leaving 3500 handwritten pages. Grekoff examined Harrington's extensive corpus. In addition to these materials, an early grammatical sketch by Roland Dixon (1910) and material from Sapir edited by Howard Berman (2001) have also proven useful.

Overall, the patterns found in Chuxnabán Mixe and Chimariko demonstrate how grammatical marking depends on the grammatical, semantic, and pragmatic properties of the arguments in a clause, organized hierarchically, and, thus, a close integration of syntax and semantics at the level of predicate-argument relations. As a result, this paper shows how the study of endangered and even extinct languages contributes to theories defining the nature of grammatical relations.


Berman, Howard. 2001. Chimariko Linguistic Material. Victor Golla and Sean O'Neill eds. The Collected Works of Edward Sapir XIV: Northwest California Linguistics. William Bright ed. New York: Mouton de Gruyter. 1039-1076.

Dixon, Roland B. 1910. The Chimariko Indians and Language. University of California Publications in American Archeology and Ethnology 5:5. Berkeley: University of California Press. 295-380.

Dryer, Matthew S. 1992. A Comparison of the Obviation Systems of Kutenai and Algonquian. In W. Cowan ed, Papers of the Twenty-Third Algonquian Conference, 119-163. Ottawa: Carleton University.

Dryer, Matthew S. 1994. The discourse function of the Kutenai inverse. In T. Givón ed, Voice and inversion, 65-99. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Dryer, Matthew S. 1997. Are grammatical relations universal? In J. Bybee et al. eds, Essays on language function and language type: Dedicated to T. Givón, 115-143. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Dryer, Matthew S. 1998. Obviation across clause boundaries in Kutenai. In J. Kytle et al. eds, Studies in Native American Linguistics IX, University of Kansas Working Papers. 33-51.

Gildea, Spike. 1994. Semantic and pragmatic inverse: 'Inverse alignment' vs. 'inverse voice' in Carib of Surinam. In T. Givón (ed.), Voice and inversion, 187-230. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Klaiman, M.H. 1992. Inverse Languages, Lingua 88:227-61

Mithun, Marianne. 1999. The Languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mithun, Marianne. 2008. The emergence of agentive systems. The typology of semantic alignment systems. Mark Donohue and Søren Wichmann, eds. Oxford University Press.

Scheibman, Joanne. 2002. Point of view and grammar: Structural patterns of subjectivity in American English conversation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Zavala Maldonado, Roberto. 2007. Inversion and obviation in Mesoamerica. In P. K. Austin and A. Simpson eds., Endangered languages, 267-306. Hamburg: Helmut Buske Verlag.

Zavala Maldonado, Roberto. 2000. Inversion and other topics in the grammar of Olutec (Mixe), University of Oregon: Ph.D. Dissertation.

Zúñiga, Fernando. 2006. Deixis and Alignment. Inverse systems in indigenous languages of the Americas. Amsterdam: John Benjamins

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South Eastern Huastec (Maya, Mexico): The First Teaching Materials Ever

Ana Kondic

Sydney University and Université Lyon 2 Lumière

South Eastern Huastec (Ethnologue code HSF) is an endangered Maya language spoken in the region La Huasteca, northern Veracruz, Mexico, by about 1700 people. It has not been passed to the new generations for about twenty years. The author spent 12 months on a field work in the village of San Francisco Chontla collaborating with the members of this indigenous community to document and describe this least known Maya language and its culture. This project was supported by a SOAS HRELP grant and a Mexican Government scholarship.

The materials for teaching that the author has produced are the first ever in South Eastern Huastec. They have been made with the aim to facilitate the future revitalization efforts. The author hopes that these materials will be used by future speech community to learn, teach and revitalise South Eastern Huastec, at least to some extent. These materials include stories (personal and legends), songs with exercises, a little dictionary. They are illustrated by the photos taken in the village and by drawings produced by local children.

The author would like to share her experience in collecting the data for this task, the community response to it http://www.unesco.org/culture/ich/index.php?pg=00206

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The Passamaquoddy-Malisset Language Portal: A New Direction for Endangered Language Documentation

A workshop presentation using online video projection

Ben Levine

SpeakingPlace-Northeast Historic Film Archives

The Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Language Portal offers researchers and language learners a way to simultaneously combine the advantages and functions of an online indigenous language dictionary and an extensive archive of videos featuring speakers. This integration contextualizes data in new ways and energizes documentation as it now becomes more accessible and usable to speakers themselves. Users move effortlessly between videos of activities and conversations (subtitled in Passamaquoddy-Maliseet and/or English) where a simple pause on a subtitled word takes them directly into the dictionary. Or, after searching a dictionary entry, they can explore videos where that entry is used and see and hear the grammatical transformation of that word as it is used in changing contexts. (See http://vre.lib.unb.ca/passamaquoddy/).

The Portal is a development of the Language Keepers Project, funded by the National Science Foundation's Documenting Endangered Language Program. In the first cycle of the grant we addressed the problem of documenting natural group conversation in an endangered language when it was no longer spoken in public. We developed an extensive video archive of conversations and activities using documentary filmmaking and community outreach techniques to convene and facilitate extended language use, even in situations where it was thought that the language could not be used any more. In the second grant cycle, the Portal application was developed to expand the functionality of an online Passamaquoddy-Maliseet Dictionary as a parallel mode of entry into the video archive and vice versa. The Portal unites three types of databases: a lexical, dictionary database with over 18,000 entries; audio recordings of all entries; and a video archive of natural group conversations in Passamaquoddy searchable by subject, place, and speaker.

While it has been in operation for less than a year, the Portal has already been enthusiastically received. For language learners it provides a way to see and hear language used in context and with all of the functions of a dictionary via a one-keystroke move. For researchers, there is unparalleled access to a video archive of natural group conversations and activity that is now dynamically interoperable with an online dictionary and all of its research attributes. One of the advantages is the ability to identify new words in the videos and migrate them directly to the dictionary. Multiple parties can collaborate on line to identify, transcribe, translate, create and link the new entry. The Portal also stimulates language documentation by providing a readily-accessible venue (via appropriate permissions) for new videos. In this regard future uses might include helping people working away from a home community stay in linguistic and social contact by viewing and posting videos or audio files in the language.

The presentation will demonstrate all the interactive functions of the Portal as well as offering several workstations where attendees can explore it with the assistance of the presenter.

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Language of America

A film presentation with the filmmaker present: Trailer

Ben Levine

SpeakingPlace-Northeast Historic Film Archives

Language of America is a feature documentary that vividly takes the viewer deeply into New England's last surviving native language, exploring the causes and dynamics of language loss. It reveals why the Passamaquoddy suddenly stopped speaking their language after having successfully survived centuries of oppression and forced assimilation. The film contrasts the decline of Passamaquoddy with the reclamation of Wampanoag and the brilliant work done by 2010 MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, Jesse Littledoe, an MIT-trained linguist, who followed a dream to where her language, Wampanoag, not spoken for 200 years, lay hidden. Ultimately, the documentary places these two languages in the context of worldwide language loss, exploring common factors that endanger language communities and the real potential for reclamation that is often missed.

The film begins by contextualizing Passamaquoddy as a language of a specific place. It then explores the polysynthetic structure of the language with visual effects that reveal how Algonquian words work. The viewer follows a path into indigenous language and develops a sense of a worldview that is very different and thus challenging to represent. Issues concerning translating indigenous languages, language teaching, and writing and oral culture are addressed as we follow speakers and families as they use the language to explore and better understand the language and themselves.

Jesse Littledoe is fond of saying her daughter May, aged three, is the first native speaker of Wampanoag in 200 years. She describes how her mentor, Linguist Ken Hale, taught her to build a dictionary from 300-year-old recently-discovered documents while building a language reclamation model in her community that is seeing its second generation of teachers.

Language of America offers an intelligent, sobering, yet hopeful perspective on language loss and revival that is accessible to the expert and layperson alike. It is honest, challenging, and above all speaks with a native voice that comes unmistakably from the indigenous community.

Language of America was selected to be the Keynote presentation at the 41st Algonquian Language Conference in Montreal. It was Official Selection at the Oaxaca International Film Festival, The Boston, Connecticut, and Maine International film festivals, and is currently in use in many universities.

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Yënienhwi's Onywawenda': Reflections on Being a Heritage-language Learner, Linguist, and Teacher

Megan Lukaniec

Université Laval; Huron-Wendat Nation

In his 1965 article, anthropologist Marius Barbeau remarked that the Huron-Wendat language was most likely the first North American Indian language to be an object of study (Tehariolina 1995: 416). Ironically, at the time of publication, the Huron-Wendat language had already been "extinct" for approximately a century. Barbeau, who was well aware of this fact, obtained the only audio documentation of Wendat that exists today : a collection of traditional Wendat songs recorded on wax cylinders at Lorette (now Wendake), Québec in 1911. Although these recordings are limited in their linguistic utility, there also exists a wealth of textual documentation of the Huron-Wendat language including ten 17th and 18th century Jesuit dictionaries.

Through my own undergraduate research with various accounts in the Jesuit Relations from Huron missions, I became interested in learning my heritage language and consequently moved to our reserve in 2006 to accomplish this goal. Shortly after my arrival at Wendake, Québec, I became a part of Project Yawenda, a five-year language revitalization project which officially began in 2007. In order to revitalize and subsequently learn the Wendat language, it was evident that I needed to acquire a solid linguistic training. Thus, I began my masters program in the fall of 2007 and was thereby introduced to the field of linguistics. During this period, I was also fortunate enough to receive training in Iroquoian grammatical structure from several linguists, notably Marianne Mithun, who are not only renowned for their extensive work with these Native languages but also for their contributions to the field of linguistics as a whole.

After gathering together all of the Wendat language resources and starting a Toolbox database, it was time to begin the grammatical analysis. But, how do you revive a so-called "dead" language from 17th and 18th Jesuit manuscripts? And there lies the crux of the problem. Without any manual or concrete guidelines to follow, I simply delved head first into the manuscripts in the aim of reconstructing the Wendat corpus. With the guidance of other Iroquoianists, I familiarized myself with the range of historical phonological changes that have occurred among the Northern Iroquoian languages. As a result, through identifying cognates and effectuating a comparative analysis, I was able and continue to be able to reconstruct the language one root at a time.

In the fall of 2008, Project Yawenda hired five community members who were interested in becoming future Wendat language teachers. Once again, I found myself in an entirely new role : that of language teacher. Without any background in pedagogy, I began by teaching these community members what I knew best, Wendat grammatical structure, during a seven-hour session each week. Gradually, in keeping pace with my own personal language learning, I started inserting Wendat vocabulary and expressions into their training sessions. After a year of teacher training, during which I was able to continually reevaluate and rework my teaching methods, I also began giving Wendat classes to adult members of the community. Again, without a fluent teacher nor a native speaker, there were very few resources that provided practical examples of what we could or should be doing in such a classroom setting. In looking at ESL resources and other language teaching programs for inspiration, I continue to work principally by trial and error through choosing different approaches, activities, or games that could potentially be adapted for the Wendat language.

Reflecting today on my somewhat roundabout route from heritage-language learner to linguist to language teacher, I believe that there is a lot of potential for enhancing and advancing our revitalization strategies. As linguists, this is a crucial time for us to not only document endangered languages, but also to invest more of our energies in helping to create new speakers. As Mary Haas pointed out in 1978, it takes more than just a fluent native speaker to be able to teach a language, analyze its structure, and correct learners' errors as "only a linguist can do these things" (100). Through renewing communication between linguists and educators and maintaining a strong collaboration between the two disciplines, community language activists and future language teachers will be able to acquire all the skills necessary to "revive" or "revitalize" their language. Linguists will be better equipped to effectively transmit the grammatical knowledge they possess and specialists in pedagogy will be able to provide concrete methods and approaches for teaching and acquiring such a language.

Perhaps there are only a handful of language revitalization projects like Yawenda that exist today, however, many communities are only a few generations away from finding themselves in this same situation. We need to continue and expand upon this discussion between disciplines, raise awareness among communities and academia as well as formulate a set of practical guidelines to revive these dormant languages. Moreover, we need to accept the inevitable obstacles and limitations in reawakening a dormant language. As K. David Harrison accurately states, "languages may be preserved in dictionaries and books after they are no longer spoken…but a grammar book or dictionary is but a dim reflection of the richness of a spoken tongue in its native social setting" (2007: 7).

So, will the "reawakened" Wendat language indeed be different from the language of our ancestors? Yes. That said, does that mean that the efforts to revitalize our heritage language are of little to no value? No. Given the choice between knowing nothing at all and acquiring some knowledge of my heritage language, however partial or incomplete it may be at times, then yes, I will accept that "dim reflection" of my ancestors' spoken tongue. However, with the hopes of one day achieving a new generation of speakers, there is nothing to prevent us from taking that "dim reflection" and ultimately piecing together a new reflection of the richness of the 21st century Wendat language.


Haas, Mary (1978). Language, culture and history: essays. Stanford, CA : Stanford University Press.

Harrison, K. David (2007). When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World's Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge. New York: Oxford University Press.

Tehariolina, Marguerite Vincent (1984). La Nation Huronne : Son histoire, sa culture, son esprit. Québec: Éditions du Pélican.

Thwaites, Reuben G. (ed.). (1896-1901). The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 1600-1791. 73 vols. Cleveland: Burrows.

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What do Russian-American parents think about using English to help children learn their heritage language?

Elena Lyutykh

Northern Illinois University

Little is known about the support necessary for bilingual development of children in immigrant families. Theoretically, support should promote use of better-developed language to help with another languages because of the reciprocity and interdependence in language learning (Vygotsky, 1986; Cummings, 2000). Educators and learners typically agree that heritage language should be included in English-speaking classroom and argue that adults should model the use of bilingual behaviors, such as codeswitching, parallel-speech (i.e. listen to others speak in a mother tongue, but reply in English), and family interpreting, in principled ways, instead of enforcing a strict separation of the languages (Low & Lu, 2006; Orellana et. al. 2002; Valdes, 2002; Macaro, 2003; Lee, Hill-Bonnet, Gillispie, 2008). We do not know, however, if such a consensus exists among immigrant parents and educators in regard to the inclusion of English to facilitate the development of a native/heritage language.

I focus on beliefs and practices of Russian-American families with (K-5) children, affiliated with two Russian weekend schools in a large metropolitan area. The children speak and understand Russian language at home, but are learning to read and write primarily in English at school during the week. I explore parents' beliefs about bilingual behaviors and about their possible effect on the learning of Russian by elementary-age children. 84 parents of 108 children responded to a survey, answering questions about home Russian language practices and bilingual behaviors of the parents and the children. Parents also rated how well they could speak, understand, read and write English and how well each child could do the same in both English and Russian. A sub-sample (12 parents) was interviewed to get an in-depth understanding of their ideas.

Results indicate that parents were committed to maintaining Russian language. According to the parents, children "rarely" engaged in typical bilingual behaviors (codeswitching, parallel-speech & interpreting). Reports of higher levels of children's English proficiency on the survey were associated positively with home use of all three bilingual behaviors. Significant correlations between parents' reported use of English to help with Russian and the likeliness of children's engagement in codeswitching and parallel-speech suggested that some parents are implicitly more accepting of these behaviors than others, who de facto enforce the "Russian-only" home policy. In the interviews, most parents perceived English as a threat to Russian language development; held explicitly negative attitudes towards codeswitching and parallel-speech, but positive attitudes towards interpreting. Results support the need to conduct further research to understand if heritage language learning is better supported in those families where parents hold more lenient views towards bilingual behaviors and use their children's developing English literacy to help with Russian than in the "Russian-only" households.


Cummings, J. (2000). Language, Power and Pedagogy: Bilingual Children in Crossfire. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Lee, J. S., Hill-Bonnet, L., and Gillispie, J. (2008). Learning in Two Languages: Interactional Spaces for Becoming Bilingual Speakers. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 11(1), 75-94.

Low, W.M. & Lu, D. (2006). Persistent Use of Mixed Code: An Exploration of Its Functions in Hong Kong Schools. The International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9(2), 181-204.

Macaro, E. (2003) Teaching and Learning a Second Language: A Guide to Current Research and its Applications. London: Continuum.

Orellana, M.J., Reynolds, J., Dorner, L., and Meza, M. (2002). In Other Words: Translating or "Para-Phrasing" as a Family Literacy Practice in Immigrant Households. Reading Research Quarterly, 38(1), 12-34.

Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and Language (A. Kozulin, Ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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Relexification in Salasaka Kichwa: shift toward a "media lengua"?

Nate Maddux

University of Wisconsin-Madison

As migration and modernization in Ecuador's highlands continue to result in increasing levels of inter-generational language loss and an observable shift from endangered Andean languages such as Kichwa to the dominant Castilian language (King, 2000; Lenk, 2007), it is exceptional to find communities that have successfully maintained their minority-status 'mother tongue' while facing intense pressure to assimilate to the culturally and linguistically dominant norms of the urban mainstream and even of their neighboring, rural mestizos.

According to Wogan (2004), one particular indigenous community in the central Ecuadorian highlands that has defied societal pressure in successfully maintaining its linguistic heritage and ethnolinguistic vitality into the 21st century is that of the Salasakas, speakers of a distinct variety of Ecuadorian Kichwa who live in the central province of Tungurahua. This community of an estimated 8,000 speakers located in and around the township of Salasaca has collectively maintained their variety of Salasaka Kichwa (SK) as the language of all intra-group interaction in the home and in the community, despite a notable increase in the level of community-wide bilingualism in Salasaca in recent decades. (Corr, 2010) Inter-generational language-in-culture continuity has not been threatened in the community, and language shift has been avoided largely because demographic and social dislocation has been avoided. (Fishman, 1991)

Lexical borrowing from Castilian into all of Ecuador's regional varieties of Kichwa is not a new phenomenon, but it is one that in the past half-century has intensified commensurate with the rate of advancement in communication technology and mass media. (Ortiz, 1979) Although linguists may conceive of SK as a language "maintained" in its authentic form, the observable permeability of the lexical and morphological systems of the indigenous language calls into question any notion of linguistic "purity" and the state of the minority language in the new millennium.

The present pilot study will provide a description of SK and a preliminary analysis of the frequency of Castilian lexical and morphemic tokens in the naturalistic speech of eight Kichwa-dominant bilingual speakers ranging in age from 23 to 70 years old, all of whom learned Castilian only after entering primary school at six years of age. Through my analysis of conversational speech samples elicited in the Salasaca community I will explore to what degree Castilian borrowings have entered into the SK lexicon. Preliminary results demonstrate that a five-minute recording renders an average of 75-100 Castilian lexical items, with approximately 25-30% of tokens in the form of verbal roots with SK inflectional morphology, and 10-15% embedded in entire adverbial or noun phrases, indicative of slight code-mixing tendencies (Muysken, 2004), especially among the younger informants.

Additionally, the study will explore whether an intergenerational comparison of the speech samples renders a correlation between the age of informant and the relative frequency of Castilian lexical items or root morphemes present in the spoken data. Such a pattern would suggest linguistic erosion or relexification in progress, either as an early stage in eventual shift, or toward what Muysken (1979) considers to be a stable mixed language or media lengua found elsewhere in the central highlands of Ecuador. This preliminary analysis will also raise questions about the future of the Kichwa of Salasaka, and about those aspects of its linguistic heritage can be said to be "maintained" given the potential for increased levels of relexification.


Corr, Rachel. 2010. Ritual and Remembrance in the Ecuadorian Andes. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Fishman, Joshua. 1991. Reversing Language Shift: Theoretical and Empirical Foundations of Assistance to Threatened Languages. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

King, Kendall. 2000. Language Revitalization Processes and Prospects: Quichua in the Ecuadorian Andes. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Lenk, Sonia. 2007. Can Minority Languages Survive in a Situation of Sustained Bilingualism? Ethnolinguistic Vitality and Language Behavior Among Indigenous Speakers of Quichua in Ecuador. Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.

Mannheim, Bruce. 1991. The Language of the Inka Since the European Invasion. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Masaquiza, Miriam. 2005. "Elementos de discriminación contra la niñez Salasaca en el ámbito educativo urbano." In César Gamboa, ed. Aportes andinos sobre derechos humanos: Investigaciones monográficas. Quito: Abya-Yala.

Muysken, Pieter. 1979. "La mezcla de quechua y castellano: El caso de la media lengua en el Ecuador." Lexis 3:1, 41-56

Muysken, Pieter. 2004. "Two Linguistic Systems in Contact: Grammar, Phonology and Lexicon." In Tej Bhatia & William Ritchie, eds. The Handbook of Bilingualism. Malden, MA: Blackwell. 147-168.

Ortiz Arellano, Carlos. 1979. Ecuador: sociedad y lenguaje. Cuenca: Universidad de Cuenca.

Wogan, Meter. 2004. Magical Writing in Salasaca: Literacy and Power in Highland Ecuador. Boulder: Westview Press.

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Consonant Phonation and Vowel Splits in Endangered Malay Varieties

Timothy McKinnon

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Jakarta

If seen as a single language, Malay/Indonesian is by far the most widely spoken language in SE Asia, and is among the ten most widely spoken languages in the world. Despite this, Malay/Indonesian varieties are still poorly understood, since linguists have traditionally focused on Standard Malay and Standard Indonesian. Traditional Malay varieties show remarkable grammatical heterogeneity, and unfortunately, their distinctive grammatical properties are rapidly disappearing under pressure from higher prestige varieties like Standard and Jakarta Indonesian.

This paper is a report on unique phonological phenomena found in the heart of the traditional Malay speaking areas of Sumatra. In several Malay dialects spoken in remote regions of Jambi Province, vowels historically underwent splits which were conditioned by voiced obstruents (b,d,ǰ,ɡ). In the village dialect of Jernih (Sarolangun Regency), for example, vowels underwent the following changes in closed root-final syllables: Proto-Malayic (PM) *a became /ɐ/ in roots containing a voiced obstruent, while, in roots which did not contain a voiced obstruent, *a remained unchanged (1). PM *i and *u became the mid vowels /e/ and /o/, respectively, however, in roots containing voiced obstruents, *i and *u are reflected as high vowels (2). As a result of these changes, a morphologically conditioned alternation has developed: In closed final syllables /a/ is realized as [ɐ] when a prefix containing a voiced obstruent attaches to certain roots (e.g. halah 'wrong' vs. bə-halɐh 'to err'; ipaʁ 'sibling in-law' vs. bə-ipɐʁ 'have a sibling in-law').

Recent fieldwork reveals that at least six geographically dispersed dialects of Jambi Malay exhibit similar phenomena. These phenomena differ across dialects in the following ways: i) the class of vowels affected, ii) the position of the affected vowel(s) within the root, iii) the place of articulation of the affected vowel(s), iv) the types of consonants which conditioned the change.

This paper surveys the properties of consonant-vowel interactions across dialects, and provides a preliminary assessment of their areal distribution. The paper also provides some comparison with typologically similar phenomena in Kerinci (Prentice & Usman, 1978 inter alia) as well as other SE Asian languages, e.g. the development tense-register in Mon-Khmer (Thurgood, 2000 inter alia), vowel-fronting in the Berawan-Lower Baram languages of Northern Sarawak, Borneo (Blust, 2000), and Javanese vowel phonation (Dudas, 1976 inter alia).


Blust, R.A. (2000) "Low-vowel fronting in northern Sarawak", Oceanic Linguistics 39: 285-319

Collins, James T. 1998. Malay, World Language: A Short History. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

Dudas, Karen. 1976. The phonology and morphology of modern Javanese. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University Microfilms.

Prentice, D.J., and A. Hakim Usman (1978) "Kerinci Sound-changes and Phonotactics", in: S.A. Wurm and Lois Carrington (eds.), Second International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics. Fascicle I. Western Austronesian. Pacific Linguistics C-61: 121-163

Thurgood, Graham. 2000. "Voice quality differences and the origins of diphthongs" Berkeley Linguistics Society 25.295-303

(1) Reflexes of *a in closed final syllable

*a>ɐ (b,d,ǰ,ɡ)*a>a
ǰaŋɐndo notkuyaʔRipped
ǰalɐtnroad, walktulaʔpush,
dəpɐtnin frontlapakŋWide

(2) Reflexes of *i and *u in closed final syllable

*i>i (b,d,ǰ,ɡ)*i>e*u>u (b,d,ǰ,ɡ)*u>o
sədihsadpilehChoosebunuhkilltumpolblunt, dull
adiʔyounger siblingnaeʔgo upTuǰuhsevenpaŋkoʁhoe
gigin͡tbiteintem͡ppeep atbubuʁporridgeaɲčoʁsmash, destroy

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Subcontracting language consultants for data gathering

Elena Mihas

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Community-driven fieldwork involves subcontracting or "having native-speaker insiders conduct field research" (Dwyer 2006:40). Specifically, subcontracting involves assigning to language consultants individual tasks of audio and video recordings of native speakers in the research community and subsequent transcription and translation of the collected texts. This study examines practicalities of subcontracting, using fieldwork1 in the Peruvian high jungle communities of Ashéninka Perené (Arawak) as a case study. The analysis addresses the following questions.

  1. When is subcontracting necessary?
  2. What are the benefits of subcontracting?
  3. Who are the best candidates for independent data gathering?
  4. What is problematic about having language consultants conduct field research on their own?

Subcontracting is a useful method in the high jungle environment because many native communities are difficult to access due to rough terrain, or the access is denied by political and tribal leaders. An obvious benefit of subcontracting is obtaining data which are broadly representative of the particular language variety, enabling to capture language variation among different communities. Another advantage is gathering unique, culturally controversial data in a variety of genres. By far the most important gain is language documentation skills and leadership experience gained by language consultants during the subcontracting process, which prepare them for future language revitalization work in the native community after grant funding ends.

Within the limited pool of native speakers who are familiar with recording technology, bilingual teachers are the best recruits for independent data gathering. Subcontracting inevitably results in power struggle between primary language consultants. It also brings about disputes over contractual payment. The quality of recordings tends to be below average and expensive equipment is often damaged.

1 The 2009-2010 fieldwork is funded by the ELDP Small Grant #0002 and the NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant #0901196.


Dwyer, Arienne. 2006. Ethics and practicalities of cooperative fieldwork. In Jost Hippert, Nikolaus P. Himmelmann, and Ulrike Mosel (eds.), Essentials of Language Documentation, 31-66. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

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New advances in technology: The utility of online Wix and Vimeo platforms for indigenous language revitalization programs

Elena Mihas and Jeffrey Loomis

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
elmihas@uwm.edu, jjloomis@uwm.edu

Currently, e-learning (computer-assisted learning) is being incorporated as part of technology use in language revitalization programs (e.g. Penfield et al. 2006; Rau & Yang 2007). Indigenous language teachers are reported to favor online language dictionaries and audio and video clips on daily conversation and indigenous knowledge (Rau & Yang 2007: 128). In the communities where the language is becoming extinct, reliance on the online or other multimedia records of language may be total (Grenoble & Whaley 2006: 51). Using as an example the Ashéninka Perené Documentation and Language Center website, this study examines the utility of Wix-based flash websites and Vimeo-based video channels. In particular, we describe how Wix and Vimeo accounts can be created, and determine the best ways to use them in the community language revitalization efforts.

Wix Flash templates are pre-made templates which can be used as pages for a language documentation website, easy to customize because of the drag-and-drop interfaces. Vimeo is the online video platform known for its High Definition video playback that produces excellent picture and sound. As our experience shows, a Wix website is useful for the presentation of audio and text data in an interactive learning environment while Vimeo is well suited for showing multi-genre video clips. Apart from the storage of the collected data, the advantage of establishing these accounts is three-fold: (i) computer-assisted presentation of entertaining authentic visual data which are sure to keep students of any age engaged in the language learning process; (ii) the language teacher can fully control the amount of the delivered data and play the file back as many times as needed; (iii) this method works with any language revitalization model be it total or partial immersion; teaching indigenous language as a foreign language; adult education programs; or formulaic education. The only technical requirement is that a language community should have access to the Internet.


Grenoble, Lenore A., & Lindsay Whaley. 2006. Saving Languages: An introduction to language revitalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rau, D. Victoria and Yang Meng-Chien. 2007. E-Learning in Endangered Language Documentation and Revitalization. In Language Documentation & Conservation Special Publication No. 1: Documenting and Revitalizing Austronesian Languages, D. Victoria Rau and Margaret Florey (eds). University of Hawai'i Press. Available online at https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/1355/1/07rau.pdf.

Penfield, Susan, Phil Cash Cash, Candace Galla, & Depree ShadowWalker. 2006. Technology-Enhanced Language Revitalization. University of Arizona, Tucson. Available at http://www.u.arizona.edu/~cashcash/aildi_2007/draftpt1_TELR2006.pdf.

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What can revitalization work teach us about scholarship?

Marianne Mithun

University of California, Santa Barbara

As Mickey Noonan pointed out so clearly, minority languages are most threatened by two kinds of processes: language shift and linguistic convergence. Often the two go hand in hand. For communities engaged in revitalization, and for everyone seeking to understand the forces that shape language, these two threats highlight the importance of certain kinds of documentation and description. Consultation with individuals and communities on what they have found useful and what they wish had been documented are all the more valuable now, when time is of the essence. Here some ideas will be discussed that have emerged from revitalization work in several communities in North America, each facing slightly different circumstances. One is an impressive Mohawk program, which includes not only longstanding language classes for all ages, but also total immersion programs for both children and adults. The language is still spoken skillfully by elders, but was not learned as a first language for several generations. There are now fluent second language speakers and even a new generation of first language speakers. The other communities have few or no first-language speakers, but their experiences also offer insight into kinds of resources that may be valued increasingly as time goes by.

Language shift occurs for a variety of reasons, most of them social. Attitudes toward a language can play an influential role in its vitality, and thoughtful documentation and description can make a difference. They can provide materials to make the language a ubiquitous presence and providing learners with tools for expressing themselves in the modern world. They can also demonstrate that the language is not only as good as the encroaching language, but better in its own ways. Highlighting the special can foster pride in the traditional language, in the culture it represents, and in the sense of self of those whose tradition it is.

Convergence, when semantic and grammatical categories of an endangered language are progressively remodeled to match those of an encroaching language, can be so subtle as to go unnoticed, but its effects can be substantial for both communities and other scholars. As Mickey noted, 'the languages survive, but lose their distinctiveness.' One reason communities undertake revitalization is to pass on traditional ways of viewing the world, of categorizing experience and combining ideas. A decision they constantly face is whether the traditional language should be preserved intact or be allowed to evolve in step with a changing world. Sensitive documentation and description can raise awareness of the factors in play and set the stage for informed decisions. The same kind of sensitivity is vital for our general understanding of the internal and external factors that shape language.

Decisions about documentation are tightly bound up with ideas about what constitutes the essence of a language. If a language is viewed as encompassing such things as discourse structure, constructions that meld structure and substance, prefabricated collocations and idiomatic expressions, recurring lexical choices, and conventionalized prosodic structures, then all of these must be part of the record.


Noonan, Michael 2005. Language documentation and language endangerment in Nepal. Lecture at the University of Iceland, Dialogue of Cultures. http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/savifadok/volltexte/2008/201/pdf/Iceland_Talk_Handout.pdf

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Morphological Complexity in Inuktitut Speakers

Kumiko Murasugi

Carleton University

While Inuktitut, the language of the Canadian Inuit, appears in many ways to be strong and vibrant, English-language education and increased bilingualism have contributed to a decline in number of speakers, decreased language proficiency, and loss of interest in Inuktitut language and culture (Dorais and Sammons, 2002; Wright, et al., 2000). This paper reports on a study investigating language attrition, or loss of linguistic knowledge, in young Inuktitut speakers. The effect of language attrition in a community is the transmission of an incomplete grammatical system to successive generations of speakers, which, if continued for generations, will result in the eventual death of the language.

Anecdotally, the language of young Inuktitut speakers has been described by older Inuit as "baby talk," "lazy talk" and "slang." Dorais (1990, 1993, 1997) has observed a number of structural simplifications in the Inuktitut of younger speakers, such as shortened words and sentences, decrease in number of affixes, and omission of wordbases and final affixes. In the present study a variety of morphological, syntactic, lexical and discourse tasks were presented to adult Inuktitut speakers ranging in age from 18 to 55 living in Ottawa, Canada. This paper will focus on the results of the narrative discourse component of the study.

The Inuktitut speakers were presented with two narrative tasks. In the Frog narrative task they were required to narrate a wordless picture book about a boy, his dog and a lost frog called Frog, Where are You? (Mayer, 1969). This task has been used with a variety of acquisition and attrition populations, including Inuit children (Allen, Crago and Pesco, 2006). In the second narrative task, Inuit art narrative, speakers described a photograph of miniature Inuit sculptures arranged in a traditional camping scene. All the narratives were analyzed for fluency (number of words per narrative) and morphological complexity (number of morphemes per word). Inuktitut, being a polysynthetic language, exhibits syntactic structure within the word rather than at the sentence level. Thus, the number of morphemes per word, or mean length of words in morphemes (MLW) is an appropriate indicator of structural complexity, and can be used to measure structural differences across speakers.

Results from seven adult Inuktitut speakers revealed a decrease in MLW (for the Inuit art task) corresponding to decreasing age. One of the youngest speakers, age 18, had an MLW of 1.72, while the MLW of the oldest speaker, age 55, was 3.23. A correlation for the data revealed that MLW and age were significantly related (r=+.88, n=7, p<.01, two tails). These results provide quantitative evidence for the simplified structures in younger speakers observed by Dorais and older Inuit. This contrasts with speakers' age and self-assessment of Inuktitut proficiency, for example, which were not found to be significantly related (r=+.42, n=7, N.S.).

The present paper will present results from a larger sample of adult speakers, and compare the results of the Frog and Inuit art narratives with a third task, Free dialogue, where speakers provide narratives on a specific topic such as lessons they learned from an elder. Finding observable evidence of language attrition in the morphological structure of young Inuit will hopefully raise awareness of the state of Inuktitut and ensure the long-term survival of the language.


Allen, Shanley E.M., Martha Crago and Diane Pesco. 2006. The effect of majority language exposure on minority language skills: The case of Inuktitut. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 9, 578-596.

Dorais, Louis-Jacques. 1990. The Canadian Inuit and their language. In Dirmid R.F. Collis, ed., Arctic Languages: An Awakening, 185-289. Paris: Unesco.

Dorais, Louis-Jacques. 1993. From Magic Words to Word Processing. A History of the Inuit Language. Iqaluit: Arctic College.

Dorais, Louis-Jacques. 1997. Quaqtaq: Modernity and Identity in an Inuit Community. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Dorais, Louis-Jacques and Susan Sammons. 2000. Discourse and identity in the Baffin region. Arctic Anthropology 37, 92-110.

Mayer, Mercer. 1969. Frog, Where are You? New York: Dial Books.

Wright, Stephen C., Donald M. Taylor and Judy Macarthur. 2000. Subtractive bilingualism and the survival of the Inuit language: Heritage- versus second-language education. Journal of Educational Psychology, 92, 63-84.

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The Gavagai Problem: Not even wrong? Demonstrative reference on the Atolls of Bougainville

John Olstad

University of Newcastle

This paper presents new primary data on demonstrative reference from the languages of three climate endangered atolls of the Autonomous Bougainville Region of Papua New Guinea. Included in the dataset (all varieties are Austronesian, Oceanic, Northwest Solomonic) are data from Nehan, spoken on Nissan Atoll; the Pinapel dialect of Nehan, spoken on Pinapel Atoll; and data from the Halia-speaking Carteret Islanders, who are most famous for being the world's first climate refugees. The bulk of the data comes from Nehan, whose speech communities inhabit the largest land area of the three and are also the largest in number of speakers at around 5000. This paper thus gives a semantic and morphosyntactic description of demonstrative reference in each community, comparing each to other Oceanic languages and describing inter-village and inter-speaker variation with hypotheses as to the sources of the variation.

Demonstratives in Nehan, gi- for singular/plural and ra- for dual, are landing sites for locational clitics which are also used to encode personal and discourse deixis. Additional affixes are employed to denote plurality and animacy. Of particular interest, is the -a- infix which appears to be a co-opted marker of past tense, definiteness and in some villages is also used to mark true visibility/non-visibility. The -a- may also encode directional and deictic meanings depending on the village. Additionally, all deictic interpretations also work on both spatial and temporal levels, which is not uncommon in the world's languages (e.g. 'This/that is a pen.' vs. 'This/that happened yesterday.'). The demonstrative reference systems formed by these clitics and affixes vary considerably and are in some cases predictable by the topography of the land where they are used.

The current study thus contributes to knowledge on demonstrative reference in Oceanic languages and atoll-dwellers, independent of language family; to typologies of demonstrative reference; and informs arguments on linguistic relativity considering evidence from spatial language (e.g. Levinson 1997, 2003 and cf. Li & Gleitman 2002) and the effect of the physical environment on concepts used in encoding location and direction (e.g. Palmer 2002). Furthermore, if the conceptual patterns presented here prove to be specific to atoll-based communities, the loss of coherence in the communities due to endangerment would surely mean loss of the concepts themselves.


Levinson S.C. 1997. Language and cognition: the cognitive consequences of spatial description in Guugu Yimithirr . Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 7/1:98-131.

Levinson S.C. 2003. Space in language and cognition: Explorations in cognitive diversity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Li, P., & Gleitman, P. (2002). Turning the tables: Language and spatial reasoning. Cognition, 83, 265-294.

Palmer, Bill. 2002. Absolute spatial reference and the grammaticalisation of perceptually salient phenomena.' In G. Bennardo (ed) Representing space in Oceania: culture in language and mind. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. pp 107-157.

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Remembering Ancestral Voices: Language Endangerment and Language Revitalization as Emergent Vitalities in Indigenous Communities

Bernard C. Perley

University of Wisconsin-milwaukee

The turn of the millennium has been a pivotal period of linguistic activity that has prompted dramatic increases in publications, programs, and interventions dedicated to addressing the growing global crises commonly referred to as language death, language endangerment, language documentation, and language revitalization. Certainly, the call to action is urgent and justifiable. But it is also an echo of salvage linguistics at the turn of the twentieth century in North America. Over one hundred years ago, language scholars were engaged in similar linguistic documentation projects to record the last words from the last speakers of many Native American languages. Overt processes of linguistic colonialism since the sixteenth century proved to be detrimental to the survivability of many indigenous languages worldwide. Concurrent colonial ideologies perpetuated the destabilization of indigenous languages. Today, the legacies of colonial language ideologies have rendered the remaining world's indigenous languages severely endangered. A renewed sense of urgency has compelled scholars in linguistic and related fields to document "dying" languages before they are "lost" forever. The rhetoric used by language experts to garner public sympathy and institutional support often defend endangered languages as part of our universal human heritage and a necessary component of our human diversity. These are not new arguments. Franz Boas, Edward Sapir, and Benjamin Lee Whorf made these arguments in the early twentieth century. Yet, we find ourselves in the same crisis. If we repeat their rhetoric will we repeat their mistakes?

This paper acknowledges the valuable contributions that linguistics and related fields have brought to indigenous language documentation and revitalization. However, this paper argues that we as language scholars and advocates need to shift the professional rhetoric and discourse away from language and promote a discourse that focuses on the social relations mediated by language. Instead of dismembering language from its social, cultural, religious contexts we need to work with communities to re-member the heritage language back into its indigenous heritage. As a person who knows first hand the trauma of language loss I know that much more than language was lost when I was denied the ability to speak my heritage language. This paper, then, is an appeal to the community of language scholars to reorient applied linguistic interventions from "preservation" to "vitality." This paper is a program to shift our focus from language endangerment and language revitalization to emergent language and heritage vitalities. It is a program to promote language life.

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Planning language practices and representations of identity within the Gallo community in Brittany: A case of language maintenance

Cécile Hélène Christiane Rey

University of Texas at Austin

This study focuses on the representations of the Gallo language in the Eastern part of Brittany among elder native speakers (group 1) and students of Gallo (group 2). Jones & Singh (2005) and Williams (2000) both stress the importance of an asserted community identity for language transmission and the active involvement of community members in the revitalization process. In light of these two studies and the revitalization models proposed by Grenoble & Whaley (2006), the present research establishes that, in order to obtain a more appropriate and possibly successful revitalization program, it is necessary to consult and probe the approval of native speakers of Gallo. Informants from both groups show little involvement in language planning activities; in contrast, revitalization efforts in the last decades have increased within associative and militant groups.

Based on the findings of Jones & Singh (2005) and Williams (2000) on Jersey Norman French and Welsh respectively, this study provides evidence that Gallo is on the verge of achieving a different status. The framework used for the fieldwork was adapted from Boas TGPD project on Texas German (2001). Most of the interviews were conducted in a private setting. Two groups of individuals were involved in this study: older, native speakers (41) and students (17), and half of the respondents participated in a follow-up interview (1-2 hours). The results of field research on language attitudes show a positive Gallo identity: 50% of the native speakers answered that Gallo part of their identity as much as French and 78.6% of the students selected the same statement. Only 20% of group 1 and 21.4% of group 2 declared that Gallo was not an important part of their identity. In the same set of questions on identity and representations, 90% of group 1 and 85.7% of group 2 expressed a positive attitude when asked whether or not speaking and/or understanding Gallo was valuable. Overall, above 80% of the total informants think that the knowledge of Gallo is an advantage. This research demonstrates that the speech community expresses a more positive Gallo identity than expected, one of the main factors necessary to secure language maintenance.


Boas, Hans. 2001. source http://tgdp.org/index.php

Grenoble, Lenore A. and Whaley, Lindsay J. 2006. Saving Languages: An introduction to language revitalization. Cambridge University Press.

Jones, Mari, and Singh, Ishtla. 2005. Exploring language change. London; New York: Routledge.

Williams, Colin. 2000. Language revitalization: policy and planning in Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.

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Field Research on Endangered Languages: Ingrian

Fedor Rozhanskiy

University of Tartu

Elena Markus

Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Although the methodology of fieldwork was quite intensively discussed in literature (Newman, Ratliff 2001; Feagin 2002; Vaux, Cooper 2005; Gippert et al. 2006, etc.), in each case a researcher has to adapt it to a specific situation and to introduce his own approaches. This is especially relevant for the work on endangered languages with a very few number of speakers. Here, we would like to present the research techniques that we have developed and applied for the work on the Ingrian language (~ 150 speakers), one of the few highly endangered Finnic languages in Ingria (western part of the Leningrad Region of Russia).

While choosing an appropriate methodology, we considered three groups of factors: a) the language situation in Ingria; b) the goals of the research; c) the research team.

The language situation can be briefly described as follows. Ingrian is not used in everyday communication. All speakers are bilingual and in most cases their main language of communication is Russian. Almost all the speakers are very elderly (~ 80 years old). There is a great number of dialectal varieties and no standard language. Ingrian does not have a written variety. Ingrians have had permanent contacts with the speakers of closely related languages. There are no areas of compact settlement (at present, one can find 1 to 5 speakers in a village, and the villages are scattered over dozens of kilometers one from another). Ingrian has never had an administrative status, and the social status of the language is very low.

Our field trips pursued the following objectives: 1) to collect a corpus of audio recordings for further research on different aspects of the language; 2) to investigate phonetics, phonology, and grammar of Ingrian; 3) to investigate dialectal variation and language contacts in Ingria.

The research team consisted of 7-8 people. Among them, two had doctoral degrees, and the rest were graduate and undergraduate students who did not have any special Finno-Ugric education, but had solid theoretical background in linguistics and typology.

On our first arrival to Ingria, we developed two questionnaires and tried to record the answers to them from as many Ingrian speakers as possible. The first was a grammar questionnaire of 150 sentences in Russian (later expanded to 175 sentences), aimed at collecting basic Ingrian morphological and syntactic constructions. The questionnaire was designed according to the following principles: 1) It should contain contexts for all the basic grammatical forms (case forms for nouns; tense, person and mood for verbs, etc.); 2) where possible the contexts should duplicate, thus the same grammatical form could be obtained from more than one sentence; 3) the questionnaire should contain more than one grammatical form of the same lexeme; 4) there should be various syntactic constructions, but they should not be too difficult; 5) the questionnaire should contain words of various phonetic structure; 6) all the sentences should sound realistic and the vocabulary should be of everyday usage; 7) the questionnaire should start with short sentences, so that a speaker gradually gets used to this type of work.

The second was a sociolinguistic questionnaire of 60 questions on language biography and language attitude of a speaker, which often helped to interpret some grammatical peculiarities in the speech of the interviewed person.

The first meeting with a speaker was carried out in the following way: we started with a free conversation in Russian on topics related to the sociolinguistic questionnaire, and later asked to translate the grammar questionnaire from Russian into Ingrian. Sentences from the grammar questionnaire were asked in a strict order (direct or, rarely, inverse), thus later it was easy to find sentences in the audio file. When the speaker felt tired from translation, we switched back to free conversation on sociolinguistic issues, and later asked some more sentences from the grammar questionnaire.

Following this approach, we were able to collect a corpus of fully comparable data from speakers in different villages, to master quickly the basic vocabulary and grammar constructions, to make the collection of data researcher-independent, to estimate language competence and discover individual characteristics of each speaker, and to gain the speakers' positive attitude to our research.

Later, the team members analysed the questionnaires and worked on individual research topics choosing those language consultants who best fitted their specific research goals.


Feagin C. Entering the Community: Fieldwork // Chambers, J.K., Trudgill, P., Schilling-Estes, N. (eds.) The Handbook of Language Variation and Change. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2002, 20-39.

Gippert J., Himmelmann N.P., Mosel, U. (eds.) Essentials of Language Documentation. Berlin, New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 2006.

Newman P., Ratliff M. (eds.) Linguistic Fieldwork. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Vaux B., Cooper J. Introduction to Linguistic Field Methods. München: LINCOM EUROPA, 2005.

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The role of Ladino among the Turkish-Jewish community members in Istanbul, Turkey

Lisya Seloni

Illinois State University

Yusuf Sarfati

Illinois State University

This presentation focuses on the use of Ladino, also known as Jewish Spanish, within the Jewish community in contemporary Turkey. The presenters share some preliminary results from an ongoing project on the sociocultural and political factors that contribute to the diminished use of Ladino in Turkey in the 21st century. Some of the central research questions of this qualitative study include: What are the social spaces in which Ladino is used within Turkish-Jewish community in Istanbul, Turkey? Why is the oral Ladino usage among the current generation significantly lower than the previous generation? What are some of the historical and political factors that contribute to the unwillingness of the community members to pass this language to younger generations?

Can community attempts for the revitalization of Ladino succeed in the long run?

In order to shed light to these questions and identify some of the cultural characteristics of Ladino community in Istanbul from a sociolinguistic and political perspective, the presenters analyze interviews from an oral history archive. This newly collected archive consists of 40 in-depth interviews with elderly members of the Jewish community about their historical and linguistic experiences as a minority group. The presenters will also share results from a discourse analysis of the earlier language policies that mandated minority groups in Turkey to speak and write in the standard Turkish during the formative years of the Turkish Republic. Discussion of this ideological climate constructed during the state formation brings an additional layer of understanding of why many of the Jews in Turkey regard Ladino as an impediment to their integration to the mainstream Turkish society. Adopting a dual role both as insiders of the Turkish Jewish community and outsiders of the Ladino speaking group, the presenters will end their presentation by discussing the current revitalization attempts of Ladino in the community as well as potential areas of future research to maintain this heritage language.

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The world's languages in crisis: A 20-year update

Gary F. Simons

SIL International

M. Paul Lewis

SIL International

"The world's languages in crisis" (Krauss 1992), the great linguistic call to arms in the face of the looming language endangerment crisis, was first delivered twenty years ago in an Endangered Languages Symposium at the 1991 annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America. Krauss noted that "statistics on language viability are very hard to come by" (p. 4), but using the sources at hand he made a survey of the global situation and estimated that only 10% of languages seem safe in the long term, up to 50% may already be moribund, and the remainder are in danger of becoming moribund by the end of this century. He noted that the Ethnologue (Grimes 1988) was "by far the best single source available" (p. 4) and relied on it for most of his information. On one key point, however, he noted that, "the Grimeses themselves might agree that as many as 20% of the world's languages are already moribund. However, two other linguists with wide experience have both independently guessed, along with me, that the total may be more like 50%, or at least that the number of languages which, at the rate things are going, will become extinct during the coming century is 3,000 of 6,000" (p. 6).

In this paper we use the latest information available in the Ethnologue to offer an update to the global statistics on language viability. The most recent edition (Lewis 2009) has made many strides in this respect beyond the edition that was available to Krauss. The next edition, due out in 2013, will take even further strides. It will, for the first time, provide an estimate of relative safety versus endangerment for every language on earth. We have built on the Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (GIDS); it is an 8-level scale that Fishman (1991) developed in order to explain stages in reversing language shift as we attempt to turn threatened languages into safe ones. That scale is well elaborated on the safe end, but has only two levels on the endangered end. By contrast, the scale developed by the UNESCO Expert Meeting on Safeguarding Endangered Languages (Brenzinger and others 2003) identifies four levels of endangerment, but does not distinguish different levels on the safe end of the scale. We have developed an Extended GIDS (Lewis and Simons 2010) by harmonizing the GIDS, the UNESCO scale, and categories previously used in Ethnologue. The EGIDS is a 13-level scale which recognizes the following levels (from highest to lowest): International, National, Regional, Trade, Educational, Written, Vigorous, Threatened, Shifting, Moribund, Nearly Extinct, Dormant, Extinct. The paper will introduce the EGIDS and then give a preliminary report on the findings of our attempt to assign an EGIDS estimate to nearly every language listed in the Ethnologue.


Brenzinger, Matthias, Akira Yamamoto, Noriko Aikawa, Dmitri Koundiouba, Anahit Minasyan, Arienne Dwyer, Colette Grinevald, Michael Krauss, Osahito Miyaoka, Osamu Sakiyama, Rieks Smeets and Ofelia Zepeda. 2003. Language vitality and endangerment. Paris: UNESCO Expert Meeting on Safeguarding Endangered Languages.

Fishman, Joshua A. 1991. Reversing language shift: Theory and practice of assistance to threatened languages. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Grimes, Barbara F. (ed.). 1988. Ethnologue: Languages of the world, 11th edition. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.

Krauss, Michael. 1992. The world's languages in crisis. Language 68:4-10.

Lewis, M. Paul (ed.). 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the world, 16th edition. Dallas: SIL International.

Lewis, M. Paul and Gary F. Simons. 2010. Assessing endangerment: Expanding Fishman's GIDS. Revue Roumaine de Linguistique 55(2):103-120. http://www.lingv.ro/resources/scm_images/RRL-02-2010-Lewis.pdf

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Language Endangerment or Survival? A case study of the Sociolinguistic, Cultural and Cognitive aspects of a Preliterate community-an emic perspective

Meenakshi Barad Sirigiri

EFL University, Hyderabad, India

K. Amaliraj

EFL University, Hyderabad, India

Languages are important sources for speakers' identity. Besides playing important roles in the future of speech communities they also concern issues related to culture and survival of societies. The loss of each language reduces the linguistic diversity of the world which is already threatened almost beyond repair. Regardless of the reasons why people abandon their language the ultimate result in most cases is the death of the language.

The loss of a language entails the loss of cultural heritage and every culture represents a unique way of life. So the documentation of language is central to the study of traditions especially oral traditions. Case studies of such languages allow for a better understanding of language shift processes.

This paper discusses the situation of a preliterate community and examines the case specific aspects of language endangerment of one preliterate community in India whose language does not have a script; along with the socio-linguistic and cultural aspects of the community.

Firstly it discusses the socio-linguistic aspects of the 'Patkar' community and language. It assesses the degree of endangerment based on several factors. It then examines the strategic disadvantages of Patkar learners in L2 writing due to a lack of L1 literacy. This is done by a study wherein essays written by Patkar learners are analyzed. Finally it lays down the findings of the study and correlates the findings to language endangerment or maintenance.

Key words: Literacy, 'Patkar' community, preliterate learners, language shift, transfer, language endangerment

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Revitalization of North-Western Mari

Takashi Tanaka

Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

Mari (марийский язык, aka Cheremis) is a Finno-Ugric language spoken mainly in Russia. According to 2002 census, the total number of Maris in Russia is 604,298, and the number of the speakers is 464,341. Maris mainly live in european part of Russian Federation. Mar El, their titular republic has the most population - 312,178. The other "diasporas" of Mari are in Bashkortstan, Nizhegorod, Kilov and Sverdrovsk oblasts. Mari language has been in use before and throughout the Soviet period and is still used among Maris daily. It is an official language of the Mari El republic together with Russian. The language is used in administrative documents, media, education, art and religion. There are two literary norms: Meadow-Eastern Mari and Hill Mari.

There are four major dialects: Meadow Mari (spoken in Mari El), Eastern Mari (Bashkortstan), Hill Mari (around the city of Kozmodeniyansk) and North-Western Mari (Nizhegorod oblast). North-Western Mari is different from other dialects in some way. It is the only one that is not taught in schools nor in officially used now. Accordingly, it is used in very limited spheres - mostly at home with family members and relatives.

The speakers of North-Western Mari live mainly in Nizhegorod oblast, which is located to the north of the Republic of Mari El. The number of Mari speakers in the oblast is 7,757. Tonshaevo is a village where many of NW Mari speakers live and form a community, where the revitalization movement is now taking place. According to the Census in 2002, there were 2,012 speakers of Mari in Tonshaevo.

NW Mari had been taught in schools; there were eight schools in 1937; but not anymore. Orthography was "practically" created in 1971 when the first dictionary was published; but the dialect has not been written because of the lack of educational/administrative use.

The most recent revitalization process has begun in 2006 when a Mari person came back to his home village and decided to make his own mother tongue revitalized - though he doesn't speak it himself. He and his group are now trying to publish textbooks to teach "their own language". We want to help them to revitalize their mother tongue by way of (partly) adopting the teaching materials and literatures written in two literary norms. The descriptive works by the linguists in 1960's and 70's showed that NW dialect has characteristics of both two norms; but phonetically, it is closer to Hill Mari. So they could use the Hill Mari literature as a base to create their own version. The linguists from Mari State University in Mari El are also willing to help. The revitalization process is now undergone together with the revitalization of the traditional religion of Mari, which has been becoming popular among Maris after the fall of Soviet Union.

In the presentation, we introduce the revitalization process in Tonshaevo referring to the Mari Traditional Religion as well. We'd like to discuss the possibility of adopting literature written in other norm/dialect.


I.G. Ivanov and G.M. Tuzharov "Северо-западное наречие марийского языка" (North-Western Dialect of Mari Language) Yoshkar-Ola, 1970

I.G. Ivanov and G.M. Tuzharov "Словарь северо-западного наречия марийского языка" (Dictionary of North-Western Dialect of Mari Language) Yoshkar-Ola, 1971

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The Native/Neo-speaker Rift-Implications for the Revitalization of a Declining Celtic Language (Breton)

Sarah Thomason

University of Michigan

Some of the issues that arise in documenting endangered languages are the same ones that come up with any primary documentation project -- making initial contacts with the community, getting permission to conduct fieldwork, organizing a field session, preparing carefully for each session, selecting techniques for collecting lexical and grammatical data, trying hard not to offend anyone (e.g. by introducing taboo words and concepts), and so forth. This talk will focus on some of the special circumstances that make fieldwork on an endangered language especially challenging. Among these circumstances are the need to start by approaching community leaders rather than potential language consultants; the need for extra flexibility in organizing the work, given the (probable) advanced age and precarious state of health of the consultants; the need to use a variety of methods in collecting data from elderly speakers who might not have used their language regularly for decades; the need to accept most of the variant forms provided by different speakers, even when the speakers disagree among themselves about the acceptability of some variants; and the need to ensure that the results of the research are usable by the community as well as by linguists. In addition, in some cases -- both with research on nonstandard dialects and with research on languages that haven't (yet) been standardized -- processes of standardization complicate speakers' assessment of certain forms that they and other community members produce, and the linguist must deal with the effects of varying grammaticality judgments that arise from this cause.

Most of my examples will be drawn from my own fieldwork in two very different situations: documentation of word-formation patterns in endangered nonstandard dialects of the language formerly known as Serbo-Croatian; and, more extensively, primary documentation of the Salish-Pend d'Oreille (Montana Salish) language that is spoken on the Flathead Reservation in northwestern Montana. The youngest speakers I worked with in the former Yugoslavia were in their 60s, had never attended school, and were not all literate; the youngest speakers I work with in Montana now are in their mid-70s, are fully fluent in English as well as in their native language, and are fully literate in English. It has been two or more generations since any children were raised mainly speaking Salish-Pend d'Oreille, so that the language as spoken by the few remaining traditional native speakers will be gone within the next 20-30 years.

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The Native/Neo-speaker Rift-Implications for the Revitalization of a Declining Celtic Language (Breton)

Lenora Timm

University of California, Davis

The population of active Breton speakers has dwindled to 240,000, constituting about 10% of the current population of Lower Brittany, the traditional Breton-speaking sector of the region. . A century ago, by contrast, there may have been well over a million speakers of Breton, a goodly portion of whom would have been monolingual in the language. Thus, anyone interested in the survival of this traditional Celtic language has reason to be concerned about its future over the long term, even though a quarter of a million speakers may not seem especially meager in comparison with, for example, many Native American languages that have either become extinct or now have mainly aged speakers countable in the fives or tens. Yet in looking at the age pyramid of the Breton-speaking population-the vast majority are over 60-and the diglossic situation with French within Brittany it becomes clear that there is considerable reason to wonder how long, and in what form, Breton will continue to function.

Serious efforts have been underway since the 1970s to revitalize Breton and to expand its domains of usage within society. As with any such efforts, a host of social, political, economic factors, along with linguistic ones, affect the trajectory and outcome of revitalization. While Breton language activism can boast some laudable achievements, it has also faced some very tough challenges and impasses. One of these is the communication gap that exists between the L1 ( native) and L2 (neo) practitioners of the language, an issue that has been discussed in relation to a wide variety of language revitalization situations (e.g., Bentahila & Davies 1993, Dorian 1994, Eckert 1983, Hornberger & King 1996, Siguan 1988, Thomson 1994, Trosset 1993, Urla 1993) In this paper I will take a closer look at this problem for the Breton case. There are clearly linguistic parameters to the issue as the L2 speakers have learned a distinct, standardized version of the language that differs significantly phonologically and morpho-syntactically from the native vernaculars; but language ideologies and attitudes also play an important role in the "stand-off" between the two sets of speakers. This paper will address both sets of issues and will conclude with some suggestions for endeavoring to bridge the rift that has developed between the native and neo-speakers of this Celtic language.


Bentahila, A. & E.E. Davies (1993). Language revival: restoration or transformation? Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 14(5):355-374.

Dorian, N. (1994). Purism vs. compromise in language revitalization and language revival. Language in Society 23(4):479-494.

Eckert, P. (1983). The paradox of national language movements. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 4(4):289-300.

Hornberger, N. & K.A. King (1996). Language revitalization in the Andes: Can the schools reverse language shift? Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 17(6):427-441.

Siguan, M. (1988). Bilingual education in Spain,. In C.B. Paulston, ed., International Handbook of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education. New York: Greenwood Press, 449-473.

Thomson, D.S. (1994). Attitudes to linguistic change in Gaelic Scotland. In M.M. Parry, W.V. Davies, & R.A.M. Temple, eds., The Changing Voices of Europe: Social and Political Changes and their Linguistic Repercussions, Past, Present and Future. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 227-235.

Trosset, C. (1993). Welshness Performed: Welsh Concepts of Person and Society. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

Urla, J. (1993). Contesting modernities. Language standardization and the production of an ancient/modern Basque culture. Critique of Anthropology 13(2):101-118.

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Revitalizing languages though place- and culture-based language curriculum

Janne L. Underriner

University of Oregon Northwest Indian Language Institute; Department of Linguistics

Roger Jacob

Yakama Nation, Northwest Indian Language Institute

Joana Jansen

University of Oregon Northwest Indian Language Institute; Department of Linguistics

Place and culture-based language curriculum can be an important tool for language and lifeways revitalization. A place-based educational approach grounds curriculum and lessons in students' experiences in local events and places, and acknowledges that learning happens not only in formal educational settings but also outside of school in families and communities. This reinforces connections to one's home, family, community and world. Included components can be the cultural, historical, social, religious and/or economic relevance of specific locations or areas (Smith, 2002; Gruenewald, 2003). The traditional importance of place is discussed by Cajete (1994), who writes that the purpose of traditional education in Native cultures is to deeply connect young people to their heritage and their physical homelands. (Note that the terms place-based and culturally/community-based overlap; we use place-based as a cover term here.)

This paper introduces participants to the concepts of place and culture-based language teaching curriculum, and provides several rich examples of place-based curriculum projects. The examples presented in this paper fall into the broadly applicable categories of journeys; vessels; plants and foods; and locations and landmarks. Since materials that support place-based or culturally-based curriculum are gathered in the course of a language documentation project, ways that linguists and documentation specialists can collaborate with speech community members to support place-based curriculum development are addressed. The concepts presented are adaptable to a range of ages and proficiency levels of language learners.

While place-based learning is not a new trend within education or Native education its emergence in Northwest Native communities as a promising resource for language teaching and revitalization is a more recent development. Research into how to best support Native students academically suggests that students do better if schools and classrooms validate and incorporate their culture (Demmert 2003, Lipka 2002). The goals of culturally rich place-based education tie into Native educators' recommendations for the integration of the local and the inclusion of cultural knowledge in teaching, and increased community involvement in schools.


Cajete, Gregory. 1994. Look to the Mountain: An Ecology of Indigenous Education. Durango, CO: Kivakí Press.

Demmert, William G., Jr., and John C. Towner. 2003. A Review of the Research Literature on the Influences of Culturally Based Education on the Academic Performances of Native American Students. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory.

Gruenewald, David. 2003. Foundations of Place: A Multidisciplinary Framework for Place-Conscious Education. American Educational Research Journal, 40: 619-654 Lipka, Jerry. 2002. Schooling for Self-determination: Research on the Effects of Including Native Language and Culture in the Schools. Charleston, WV: Clearinghouse on Rural Education and Small Schools, AEL.

Smith, Gregory A. 2002. Place-based education: Learning to be where we are. Phi Delta Kappan. 83: 584-94.

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Dictionaries or Death: Can Lexicographers Save Languages?

Marit Vamarasi

Northeastern Illinois University

The methods of language revitalization are as numerous as the number of endangered languages, it seems. This is due to the fact that each endangered situation is a unique mixture of factors such as geography, history, demography, politics, education, economics, and linguistics (Vamarasi 2005). There can be no one-size-fits-all when it comes to trying to re-energize the use of a language.

One revitalization tool that perhaps is used more than any other is the dictionary. Both speakers of threatened languages and scientists who work on these languages see the benefits of a dictionary in the vernacular. Even here, however, there are numerous possibilities: printed or on-line; monolingual or bi/multilingual; glossaries or encylopediae; collaborative or single-authored; multimedia or monomedia.

This presentation examines the current state of lexicographic efforts in the fight to save at least some of the world's languages, to determine whether these dictionaries are having a positive influence on language maintenance and revitalization, or, whether, on the other hand, they are simply providing a record for the day that those languages are gone. This will involve a look at the different dictionary types, the range of technology being used, and the challenges to making a readily-available, pedagogically-sound, and widely-used dictionary of a language whose use is in decline.

The presenter's own experiences with compiling a dictionary of Rotuman, an endangered language of the South Pacific, will be detailed.


Albright, Eric and John Hatton. n. d. WeSay: A tool for engaging native speakers in dictionary building. http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/1368/2/10albrightsmall.pdf

Early, Robert. 2004. Monolingual mania: Current trends in Pacific dictionary making. Paper presented at The Second Asian Lexicography Conference, Chiangmai, Thailand, 24th-26th, 2004.

Mosel, Ulrike. n. d. Lexicography in endangered language communities. http://www.linguistik.unikiel.de/CUP%20Mosel_Lexicography101208.pdf

Pycha, Anne et.al. 2007. An online multimedia dictionary of Hupa (Athabaskan). http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/~garrett/SSILA2007-Hupa.pdf

Vamarasi, Marit. 2005. Factors favoring and disfavoring obsolescence in the South Pacific: A case study of Rotuman. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 172, pp. 79-90.

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Community internal and external calls to the promotion of indigenous languages within the immigrant population in Eastern North Carolina

Ricard Viñas-de-Puig

East Carolina University

This paper addresses two different projects carried out in Eastern North Carolina related to the identification and promotion of the indigenous and endangered languages spoken among the immigrant (Hispanic) population. Crucially, it highlights the participation of the members of the community in such efforts and presents some of the challenges faced when doing documentation in immigrant settings.

In many instances, the indigenous languages present in immigrant communities in the US are invisible to the public. Although few authors (Burke 2002, Fox 2004) have documented the presence of indigenous languages among immigrant populations within the US, little is known about the presence of these languages in many parts, including Eastern North Carolina. The overarching goals of these ongoing projects are twofold: i. to identify the linguistic varieties present among the Hispanic immigrant population; and ii. to engage with members of the community to promote these languages by de creation of materials and documents.

Since October 2009, two different initiatives have emerged aiming at the promotion of indigenous immigrant languages. The two initiatives differ in the source of the project: i. in the first initiative, members of the speaking community contacted external researchers to do collaborate to promote Tzotzil, the indigenous variety spoken in the local community; ii. in the second initiative, the external researcher contacted a group of immigrant speakers of Otomi to develop materials for the promotion of the language within the community. These projects were coupled with different efforts to detect the presence of other indigenous immigrant in Eastern North Carolina (Ortega 2010).

In both initiatives, the external researcher and the members of the community established a collaborative approach, following the guidelines of a Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology. This research methodology, which has proven to yield satisfactory results in the promotion of understudied languages (Benedicto and Mayangna Yulbarangyang Balna 2007), needed to be reshaped given the differences observed between origin and immigrant communities. These differences result in challenges that need to be overcome: i. there is greater linguistic diversity within the immigrant community (i.e. not all the members are L1 speakers of the language under study); ii. the immigrant community is faced with priorities differing from those of an origin community (i.e. language is not one of the top priorities); and iii. the diversity of the immigrant community also manifests itself a disparity of literacy levels. These challenges result in a change in some of the working methodology, while maintaining both the collaborative approach and the end product of the project. In both instances, the final goal of the project is to develop materials (i.e. visual basic dictionary) to promote the indigenous language(s).

These projects not only shed light on the presence of indigenous and endangered languages within the immigrant community in the Eastern North Carolina, but they also exemplify both the need and the will from the community to establish projects to promote these varieties. Additionally, these initiatives serve as good evidence of the benefits of establishing a participative and collaborative approach to (immigrant) language promotion.


Benedicto, Elena and Mayangna Yulbarangyang Balna. 2007. A Model of Participatory Action Research: the Mayangna linguists' team of Nicaragua. In Proceedings of the XI FEL Conference on 'Working Together for Endangered Languages - Research Challenges and Social Impacts'. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: SKET, University of Malaya and Foundation for Endangered Languages. 29-35.

Burke, Garance. 2002. Yucatecos and Chiapanecos in San Francisco: Mayan Immigrants Form New Communities. In Fox, Jonathan and Gaspar Rivera-Salgado (Eds.). Indigenous Mexican Migrants in the United States. La Jolla, CA: University of California, San Diego, Center for Comparative Immigration Studies/Center for US-Mexican Studies.

Fox, Jonathan. 2004. Reframing Mexican Migration as a Multi-Ethnic Process. Paper presented at Agrarian Studies Colloquium. New Haven, CT: Yale University. October 29.

Ortega, María. 2010. The Unspoken Truth: Indigenous Languages in the Hispanic Community of Edgecombe County. Paper presentede at the 7th TALGS (TESOL/Applied Linguistics Graduate Students) Conference. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University. February 20.

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Minority languages preservation and development regional programmes (The Finno-Ugrian languages of Russia as an example)

Olga Yanush

Kazan State Power Engineering University

The Finno-Ugrian language group includes the Hungarian, Vepsian, Ingrian, Karelian,Mari, Udmurt, Finnish and many other languages. Some of them have a status of national one in corresponding titular republics of Russia.

In T. Skutnabb-Kangas' paper the Finno-Ugrian languages of Russia were called endangered ones that can be explained by the following factors. The functions of the Finno-Ugrian languages are narrower that the Russian's ones. The demographic development of the Finno-Ugrian groups in Russia shows a steady downward trend. The next reason is a lack of an institution concerned with a problem of the minority languages. There is a Ministry for regional development, but as F. Grin notes, "...an Office for local or regional development typically focuses on matters of labour, training, and infrastructure. The function of Language policy offices should be, within a given legal and political context regarding minority rights, to focus on those policies that focus on language protection and promotion". Moreover the language policy in Russia is used to be considered as a part of nationalities policy. Under existing conditions the political will and appropriate regional programmes become the only-one way to preserve and develop the minority languages. So, the purpose of this study is to research the regional experience of preservation and development of the Finno-Ugrian languages in Russia.

The regional programmes of the republics of Udmurtia, Mari-El and Karelia will be seen in this paper. For example, there are about 30 normative documents in Karelia - laws, decisions, programmes, conceptions ("The Karelian language till 2020", "The state support of the Karelian, Vepsian and Finnish Languages" and so on) that should be explored.


Grin, F. Language Policy Evaluation and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. P. 199.

Skutnabb-Kangas, Tove (2004). Finno-Ugric Peoples in a Global Context: human rights of speakers of endangered languages. Plenary paper at the 4th World Congress of the Finno-Ugric Peoples, August 15-19, 2004, Tallinn, Estonia. Translated by Mar'a Sipos]. Vol. IX, no. 3 (September 2004): 16-24.

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