FW: Calls: Endangered Languages

Johanna Laakso johanna.laakso at univie.ac.at
Tue Feb 4 17:31:08 UTC 2003

Dear Uralists,
with usual apologies for cross-postings, I forward (from LINGUIST, Subj.
14.348) a conference call with many interesting points -- although, of
course, Australia is very far away...

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Johanna Laakso
Institut für Finno-Ugristik der Universität Wien
Universitätscampus, Spitalg. 2-4 Hof 7, A-1090 Wien
tel. +43 1 4277 43009 | fax +43 1 4277 9430
johanna.laakso at univie.ac.at | http://mailbox.univie.ac.at/Johanna.Laakso/


Date:  Tue, 04 Feb 2003 08:38:09 +0000
From:  jungurra at yahoo.com.au
Subject:  Endangered Languages, Australia

7th International Conference of the Foundation for Endangered Languages

Location: Broome, Western Australia, Australia
Date: 22-Sep-2003 - 24-Sep-2003
Call Deadline: 09-Mar-2003
Contact Person: Joseph Blythe
Meeting Email: jungurra at yahoo.com.au
Linguistic Subfield(s): General Linguistics

Meeting Description:

7th International Conference hosted by the
Foundation for Endangered Languages
''Maintaining the Links: Language, Identity and the Land''
Broome, Western Australia, September 22nd - 24th 2003

Call for Abstracts

Minority language groups around the world are endeavouring to maintain
their languages, traditions and identities in the face of immense
pressures from more dominant languages and cultures in their regions.

Some languages express identity or ethnicity in terms of having and
controlling the traditional language normally associated with a
particular tract of land. Many other languages, English included,
often refer to various ethnic groups and their language varieties in
terms of a connection to a particular region, even if only a
historical one. Some groups who have been either displaced from their
traditional lands or have emigrated to new lands see maintaining their
original languages and cultures as a means of reinforcing their
identity and keeping alive the links with their homeland.

Throughout the world the relationships between language, land and
identity are varied and complex, especially for indigenous
communities. For some coastal and seafaring communities the 'sense of
place' may be felt in connection with the sea as well as the land. In
Siberia the survival of languages can be linked to the continuation of
traditional practises such as herding reindeer. In Australia dreaming
stories recount the creation of the land and explain, amongst other
things, topographical features, animal behaviour and language

In the Federal and High Courts of Australia, recent native title
claims have been won and lost based on whether or not the claimants
were able to demonstrate continuous connection with the country under
claim. Knowledge of the traditional languages is a factor in
determining the extent of that connection. For this reason the sound
documentation of languages and their successful maintenance has become
more important than ever and has a bearing on people who may not
otherwise be concerned about language loss.

The seventh international conference of the Foundation for Endangered
Languages aims to better understand the relationships between
language, the culture and identity of its speakers, and the
land. These understandings can then provide an important guide to
establishing priorities, when choosing approaches to documentation and
revitalization of endangered languages.

We hope to find answers to many questions:

*What lies behind the idea, common in indigenous communities, that a
language may have an intrinsic link with a place, or a traditional way
of life?

*Are there principles for demarcating functions of different language
varieties, such as local and national languages?

* Can languages be owned? Do small language communities have a right
to restrict access to their language, even if it is severely
threatened? Do outsiders have any right to know a small community's

*How have so many widely spoken languages lost their link with their
homeland? Are all widespread languages (national, imperial,
commercial) cut off from their roots?

*How can we learn from speakers of indigenous languages about cultural
identity, and a sense of place?

*Can knowledge of the language of your forebears link you to a place
that you have never seen?

*Is it possible to successfully document or maintain a language
without careful consideration of its cultural and environmental

*What do the speakers of endangered languages see as the most
important thing for the future: documentation in archives or passing
on the language to the next generation?

*Is there a conflict between documentation and archiving on the one
hand and language revitalization on the other? Who should set
priorities and how should they go about it?

*What is the relationship between language revitalisation and the
connection to ancestral country?

To seek answers to these and other questions the Foundation for
Endangered Languages hereby calls for papers to be presented at its
seventh conference, Maintaining the Links: Language, Identity and the
Land, to be held in Broome, Western Australia.

It is no coincidence that we chose this venue to host the
conference. Broome is a growing town in the Kimberley region in the
remote north of Western Australia. It is a colourful town with a
laid-back atmosphere. To the west the Indian Ocean and beautiful
beaches and to the east the Great Sandy Desert, it is spectacular

In the 1880s the Kimberley was one of the last regions of the country
to be settled by Europeans with the opening of the area to the
pastoral industry and the discovery of gold. The town of Broome began
with the establishment of the pearling industry. Aboriginal people
along with many Japanese, Malays, Filipinos, Timorese, Macassarese and
Ambonese worked in this industry which is still one of the town's most
important. The influence of Broome Pearling Lugger's Pidgin, now no
longer spoken, can be heard in 'Broome Talk', one of the varieties of
English spoken by many Broome locals today.

It is a region of great linguistic diversity. There are twenty-five
traditional Aboriginal languages still spoken in the Kimberley
although many have only a handful of speakers and only two are spoken
by children as their first language. As the 'gateway to the
Kimberley', Broome is also close to the Pilbara region where there are
some 20 languages still spoken.

Australia is a sad example of extreme language endangerment. Over 250
languages were once spoken, but now only ninety or so
remain. Initially death from violence and disease, then policies aimed
at cultural assimilation have diminished speech communities that had
never been large and had devastating effects on the transmission of
language from parent to child.

In the last twenty years, regional language centres have emerged as a
result of grass roots movements to reclaim and protect local
languages. They concern themselves with the production of language
materials, facilitation of language revitalisation projects,
documentation, archiving and the delivery of interpreting and
translation services.

We invite contributions not only from the fields of linguistics and
ethnography but also from any practitioners in the field, those with
experience of language and cultural maintenance.

The Foundation for Endangered Languages is a registered charity in
England and Wales. FEL conferences, besides being opportunities to
discuss the issues from a global viewpoint, are working meetings of
the Foundation, defining our overall policy for future
years. Participants at the conference therefore, unless offering media
coverage, need to be members of the Foundation. There are full
facilities to join on arrival, but all proposers are strongly urged to
join as soon as possible, and so take full part in the Foundation's
activities in the lead-up to the conference.

Presentations will last twenty minutes each, with a further ten
minutes for discussion. Authors will be expected to submit a written
paper for publication in the Proceedings well in advance of the
conference. All presentations should be accessible largely in English
but use of the languages of interest, for quotation or exemplification
would be appropriate.

Joseph Blythe, Broome, Western Australia
Nicholas Ostler, FEL, Bath, England
Chris Moseley, BBC Monitoring Service, England
Mahendra Verma, University of York, England
McKenna Brown, Virginia Commonwealth University, USA
Karen Johnson-Weiner, SUNY-Potsdam, USA
Louanna Furbee, University of Missouri, USA

Abstract Submission
Abstracts should not exceed 500 words. They can be submitted in either
of two ways: (preferably) by electronic submission, but also on
paper. They should be in English.

A) Electronic submission:
Electronic submission (by 9th March 2003) should be as attachment in
Word format in email message to R. McKenna Brown at
mbrown at saturn.vcu.edu.

B) Paper abstracts:
Three copies should be sent, (again, for delivery by 9th March), to:
R.  McKenna Brown, Virginia Commonwealth University, International
Studies Program, Box 843080, Richmond, VA 23284-3080 USA (fax
+01-804.225.3479).  This should have a clear short title, but should
not bear anything to identify the author(s).

On a separate sheet, please include the following information:
NAME : Names of the author(s)
TITLE: Title of the paper
EMAIL: Email address of the first author, if any
ADDR: Postal address of the first author
TEL: Telephone number of the first author, if any
FAX: Fax number of the first author, if any

The name of the first author will be used in all correspondence. If
possible, please also send an e-mail to R. McKenna Brown at
mbrown at saturn.vcu.edu informing him of the hard copy submission. This
is in case the hard copy does not reach its destination. This e-mail
should contain the information specified in the above section.

Important Dates

* Abstract submission deadline 9th March
* Committee's decision 13th April
* Authors submit camera-ready text 29th June
* Conference 22nd-24th September

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