ELL: The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme

Jacqui Arrol-Barker info at ELDP.SOAS.AC.UK
Mon Jul 8 14:00:27 UTC 2002

Please find below outline details of a new research programme for the
documentation of Endangered Languages.

Initial announcement

The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme

A.   A new research programme for the documentation of endangered languages.

There is a very strong prospect that a private foundation will initiate a
programme of grants to support the documentation of endangered languages,
and appoint the School of Oriental & African Studies, London University
[SOAS] to administer the scheme.  The prospective Invitation to Apply, which
is likely to be disseminated in late August, will contain full guidelines
and contact details for any further inquiries.  In the interim, no further
details will be made available and prospective applicants are requested to
avoid contacting SOAS with inquiries.

The purpose of this announcement is to indicate the rationale of the
putative programme and enable potential applicants to begin considering the
details of their possible proposals.

B.  Rationale.

The rationale of such a programme will be familiar to potential applicants:
the pace at which languages are becoming extinct is increasing throughout
the world.  Furthermore, since only about one-third of the world’s languages
have literate traditions, the vast majority of languages which die will
leave no substantial record of themselves, or the cultural traditions that
they have sustained.  Quite apart from the loss of individual cultural
expressions, this process reflects a grave diminution in human and cultural
diversity and a loss of the knowledge on which they are based and which they

The objective of the proposed programme would be twofold:  to encourage the
development of linguistic fieldwork in endangered languages, especially by
younger scholars with a grounding in linguistic theory, who will thereby
also be provided with support between basic graduate work and the assumption
of university positions; and to support the documentation of as many
threatened languages as possible, focused on where the danger of extinction
is greatest, facilitating the preservation of culture and knowledge, and
creating repositories of data for the linguistic and social sciences, and of
course for indigenous communities. Such documentation should, therefore,
have regard not only to the formal content and structure of languages, but
also to the varied social and cultural contexts within which languages are
used.  In addition to the intellectual quality of applications, principal
grounds for support will be the degree of endangerment and the urgency of
the issues.

C.  Applications.

Applications will be invited from researchers  - who might include suitably
qualified research students or postdoctoral candidate, as well as senior and
established academics  - with qualifications in and, ideally, experience of
field linguistics.  It is anticipated that all applicants will have, or will
have developed in advance of funding, a formal link with (preferably an
established position in) a university or comparable research institution.

The core of the programme will probably be grants to support more or less
elaborate projects for the documentation of individual or closely related
endangered languages, involving one or more researchers and receiving
support for up to three or, in exceptional circumstances four, years.
However, individuals (including suitably qualified research students and
postdoctoral fellows) may apply for grants.

In the first instance applicants will be expected to submit a relatively
brief Summary Proposal Form.  These will be assessed and those, which appear
to conform to the programme’s expectations as to importance and quality,
will be invited to submit a more detailed application.

It is anticipated that in this first ‘round’ the date for submission of
Summary Proposals will be mid-October 2002; invitations to submit detailed
applications will be despatched in late November 2002; and the closing date
for detailed applications will be early January 2003.

Detailed applications will have to conform to a variety of standards
(including ethical and technical standards), which will be specified in the
formal Invitation to Apply some time in late August.  Meanwhile, potential
applicants are requested not to contact SOAS.

Endangered-Languages-L Forum: endangered-languages-l at cleo.murdoch.edu.au
Web pages http://cleo.murdoch.edu.au/lists/endangered-languages-l/
Subscribe/unsubscribe and other commands: majordomo at cleo.murdoch.edu.au

More information about the Endangered-languages-l mailing list