Saving language with a Record-A-Thon (fwd link)

Thu Jul 28 22:00:52 UTC 2011

Phil, all,

This item has me thinking about three related items:

1) Existing recordings. A few years ago, I participated in the "rescue" of some interviews in Sahelian languages, but unfortunately these have still not been digitized. And just recently I corresponded with a scholar who has tapes in African languages dating some of them back to the 70s and is seeking a way to digitize them. It seems that while recording current speech is an excellent strategy (see also below), extant recordings are a resource that need attention and, well, resources to keep them "alive" for future use. 

2) Another African example: Community radio broadcasts. From various conversations in the past, it seems that broadcasts on local radio are very interesting for their linguistic content - yet they are ephemeral. Could they be recorded systematically to provide a bank of recordings for various uses? (See below)

3) I've referred in various places to an idea I heard at the LDC at U Penn for involving school children in recording oral histories in local languages to transcribe in text format. Part of the object would be development of corpora which in turn could be used in development of human language tools that might ... facilitate among other things speech to text programs in those same languages. 

Connecting these (and other) tech threads could multiply their effect and benefit. Not that this is news to members of this list but it's what I'm thinking on this reading. 


------Original Message------
From: Phillip E Cash Cash
Sender: Indigenous Languages and Technology
ReplyTo: Indigenous Languages and Technology
Subject: [ILAT] Saving language with a Record-A-Thon (fwd link)
Sent: Jul 28, 2011 13:12

Saving language with a Record-A-Thon

By STEVEN SHORT on July 27, 2011 - 4:51pm

[audio link]

The Bay Area is so diverse, that walking down the street or sitting on
BART, you might hear a number of languages being spoken. Some you
might recognize, like Spanish or Mandarin. And then there’s Arabic,
Italian, and French.

But linguists are predicting that nearly half of today’s languages
will be extinct within the next hundred years. Languages such as that
of the Wintu tribe here in California is endangered, and in northern
Australia, there were only 10 fluent speakers of the Wageman language
as of the year 2000.

But, as KALW’s Steven Short reports, one group in San Francisco is
working to make sure these languages don’t disappear without a trace.

Access full article below:

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

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