[EDLING:136] CFP: Working Together for Endangered Languages

Tamara Warhol warholt at DOLPHIN.UPENN.EDU
Fri May 18 14:26:41 UTC 2007

via the Linguist List . . .

Full Title: Working Together for Endangered Languages
Short Title: FEL XI

Date: 26-Oct-2007 - 28-Oct-2007
Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Contact Person: Maya David
Meeting Email: mayadavidyahoo.com
Web Site: http://www.ogmios.org/conference07/information

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics; General Linguistics;

Call Deadline: 31-May-2007

Meeting Description

The Eleventh Conference of the Foundation for Endangered Languages, in
collaboration with University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia:
Working Together for Endangered Languages: Research Challenges and Social
Impacts, 26-28 October 2007

Globalisation has an impact on societies on various levels. One of its
implications is the further endangerment of languages, especially those of
minority communities. The looming threat of language loss and death is 
due to
the hegemony of more dominant languages in sociopolitical and economic 
Linguists therefore have an important role in documenting, projecting, and
providing information on, languages which face extinction.

Linguists undertaking such research must tread carefully in any 
community which
faces language endangerment. The researcher by his or her very presence can
disturb the established social relations, the socio-economic 
organisation, and
the power relations within a community, bringing in more globalisation, 
and more
awareness of and exchange with the outside world. Researchers must be 
made aware
of the impact of their presence.

Communities facing language endangerment may not be cooperative towards
outsiders and may view them with suspicion. In some communities breaking 
barriers requires tact, effort, and strategic planning. Members of the 
facing endangerment should be perceived and treated by the researchers as
experts in their heritage language. Such a view inevitably reduces the 
inequality between researchers and members of the endangered language 
and eases
collaboration. Cooperation and collaboration may be impeded if the 
linguist sees
him/herself or is seen as someone who is more authoritative and 
more 'correct' than members of the community facing endangerment. Such a
perception may result in the infamous observer's paradox where subjects 
less natural in the presence of the researcher.

When researchers do not take members of the studied communities seriously,
collaborative work is impeded as the input provided may be distorted due 
to the
researchers' belief that they are the language experts. Linguists must be
objective and this can be a challenge as prior knowledge may interfere 
in their
objectivity. Lack of trust and collaboration may result in information 
not being
provided. One way of combating the failure to share information is to 
that researchers are aware that different members of the community facing
language shift are responsible for different kinds of information.

If communities are informed of the dangers of losing their languages, 
they may
be inclined to collaborate with the linguists to provide information of the
language they speak as on them is entrusted the onus of transmitting their
heritage to family members. Promoting the popularity of an endangered 
in domains such as the workplace, at home and at school may prove to be
difficult, as endangered languages face many obstacles namely from the 
functionalities of more dominant languages and the attitudes of younger
speakers. At worst, linguists could be seen as counter-productive by the 
community whose language they want to save, because the shift away from an
endangered language is at times motivated by upward economic and social 

The task of the linguist in this is by no means simple. To penetrate and 
oneself in an ethnolinguistic speech community whose language may be on the
verge of death provides the linguist many challenges on the social and
relationship levels. While the linguist is required to collect data as a
researcher, s/he must also form a relationship with the members of the 
so as to collaborate with them in efforts to promote and preserve the 
in ensuring its revival, in establishing devices and procedures to stop
endangerment etc. Given that the endangerment of languages can be handled
sensitively through collaboration between researchers and members of a 
facing language extinction, this Conference will address the research 
and social impacts of such collaborations. Amongst the questions raised 
in this
Conference are:

- What can researchers do to ensure collaboration with members of the 
community? What should the researcher do to find a way into the community
through proper and accepted channels? What benefits can a language 
expect from such collaboration?

- What are the boundaries that the researcher should not cross in order to
protect the rights and privacy of the subjects and to safeguard 
ties between community and researcher? What are the limits of researchers'
duties to the language community, and vice versa?

- What is 'best practice' for researchers in order to be accepted and 
trusted as
in-group members of the community? Does this require the linguist to reduce
his/her role as an expert, in order to build trust and collaboration 
with the
community? Can cultural immersion act as a collaborative means in data
collection, creating the notion that the researcher is part of the 
in-group? Are there any advantages in maintaining distance between 
and community?

- What options do researchers have if they encounter non-collaborative 
from their target subjects?

- Can support for maintenance of an endangered language actually be 
counter-productive, when the shift away from an endangered language is 
seen as
progress in economic and social mobility? In such conditions, can the 
be made aware of the importance of language maintenance? How can the 
convince the community of the negative impact of language loss on their 
and history and, conversely, of the benefits of recovery, preservation, 

- How can language documentation work, and its fruits, be integrated into
community activities and community development? In what other ways can
linguistic research benefit language maintenance and revitalization?

- How can the researcher guard against personally causing damage to 
social and political structures? In particular, how can the researcher 
disturbing established social relations and organization by seemingly 
favours on specific members of the community?

- How can the researcher ensure that s/he is not unwittingly the agent of
globalisation within the community and thereby the cause of further
socio-economic and cultural disruption?

Abstracts should make reference to actual language situations , and ideally
should draw on personal experience. The aim of the conference is to pool
experience, to discuss and to learn from it, not to theorize in the 
about inter-cultural relations.

Abstract and Paper Submission Protocols

In order to present a paper at the Conference, writers must submit in 
advance an
abstract of not more than 500 words before 15 May 2007. After this 
abstracts will not be accepted. Abstracts submitted, which should be in 
must include the following details:

- Title of the paper

- Name of the author(s), organisation to which he/she belongs to

- Postal address of the first author

- Telephone number (and fax number if any)

- Email address(es)

- Abstract text (not more than 500 words)

The abstracts should be sent via e-mail to waninda2001um.edu.my and
felchibcha.demon.co.uk with the subject of the e-mail stating: ''FEL 
last name of author(s): title of paper.'' Abstracts will acknowledged on 

The name of the first author will be used in all correspondence. Writers 
will be
informed once their abstracts have been accepted and they will be 
required to
submit their full papers for publication in the proceedings before 1 
2007 together with their registration fee. Failure to do so will result 
in the
disqualification of the writers to present their papers. Once accepted, 
papers can be submitted in English or Malay. Each standard presentation 
at the
Conference will last twenty minutes, with a further ten minutes for 
and questions and answers. Plenary lectures will last forty-five minutes 
these are awarded by invitation only.

Important Dates

- Abstract arrival deadline - 31 May 2007 (extended from 15 May)

- Committee's decision: 25 June 2007

- In case of acceptance, the full paper should be sent by 1 September 2007.
(Further details on the format of text will be specified to the authors)

- Conference dates: 26-28 October 2007

The site for the 2007 conference of the Foundation of Endangered Languages,
hosted jointly this year with SKET, University of Malaya, will be Kuala 

University of Malaya is the oldest university in Malaysia, and SKET is
responsible for 80 co-curricular courses, including ''Ethnic Relations.''

The Foundation for Endangered Languages is a non-profit organization, 
as Charity 1070616 in England and Wales, founded in 1996. It exists to 
enable and assist the documentation, protection and promotion of endangered
languages. (http://www.ogmios.org).

Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia, in an enclave within the state of
Selangor. Besides the Malay peninsula Malaysia includes the Sarawak and 
regions of Borneo. It has 140 indigenous languages. The indigenous 
people of
Malaya, the orang asli, numbered 105,000 in 1997, 0.5 per cent of the 
population. By contrast in 1990 there were 900,000 indigenous people in 
and 1.7 million in Sarawak. As the country's largest city, K.L. hosts
spectacular modern buildings, notably the Petronas Twin Towers, and most
recently, the 'Eye of Malaysia' Ferris wheel. K.L.'s best-preserved 
buildings are mostly in Merdeka Square, and its Chinatown is also 
famous. The
Batu Caves, 272 steps below ground, house the Hindu Lord Muruga. K.L.'s 
is equatorial: warm, sunny and often wet, year-round.

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