NEH Regional Center

Kirk Hazen khazen2 at WVU.EDU
Thu Mar 8 21:12:28 UTC 2001

Dear Folk,

This is Kirk Hazen at West Virginia University.  I signed on to the list a 
few days ago, and I have to admit that it has been fairly exciting so far.

I am doing some work for a proposed NEH regional center based at Ohio U. I 
am heading up a Roundtable On Languages and Dialects (ROLD) and have 
included a copy of the preliminary report below.  I would like some 
feedback as to what kinds of research opportunities would be ideal and 
whether the items mentioned in the report are desirable or what would be 
better? At this point, don't think practically, just dream.  I have no 
personal investment in these ideas, so feel free to take them apart.

If you would prefer, you can email me directly at khazen2 at


Proposed Topics:

For all of these proposed activities, it should be noted that people want 
to make sure that English is not the only language discussed. Languages as 
diverse as American Sign Language (ASL), Spanish, and Native American 
languages need to play a regular part in every activity which involves 
language. The key goal for such a design stipulation to these scholarly 
efforts is to keep in front of both professional researchers, students, and 
the general public the basic truth that all human languages work equally 
well even if they are not all equally socially valued.

Almost none of these ideas below were suggested by any one contact in its 
form as seen here. Many ideas were combined under umbrella ideas.
Ø       Language Archive of Video and Audio (LAVA): LAVA would be both a 
depository for new material and an active research entity collecting 
together recordings of both sounded and signed languages across the region. 
The archive would contain recordings, corresponding typescripts, and a 
database of biographical and linguistic data related to the recordings. 
Scholars and students who used LAVA for research work would then contribute 
their analyzed data to the LAVA database system, so that over the years we 
would gain a much more thorough understanding of the linguistic processes 
in the archive. As an interdisciplinary effort, LAVA could also collect 
writing samples of various stages of student work (and hopefully of 
students whose interviews might be in LAVA also); this work would allow 
much needed research on the interaction of language variation, writing, and 
Ø       Online Language Academy (OLA): OLA gathers together several 
different online projects for widely divergent audiences. Addressing the 
range, between K-12 teachers and students, college classrooms, and the 
general public, OLA provides access to portions of the oral archives and 
corresponding typescripts for those archives (i.e., LAVA). Signed languages 
would be included in a video archive. From these resources, scholars could 
conduct dialect and corpus surveys from their home institutions across the 
region. Teachers working with the project would design day-long and 
week-long curriculum for different grade levels directed towards dialect 
studies within subregions and for the entire region. Teachers in each state 
could print these lessons off the web, and then play the corresponding 
archive exercises off of a DVD or the web itself. For schools with computer 
classrooms, interactive web lessons may be designed (with sound and video 
streaming); such lessons would also work well within a "kids' dialect site" 
which parents may find educational and nonthreatening. In such a manner, 
students would be learning through community-based experience, since the 
archives would increasingly be built from local community interviews. 
Research lessons for students could then be designed to lead them through 
the oral archives. Their work would then become part of the permanent 
Ø       Regional Interactive Language List (RILL): This initiative would 
contain both static documents designed as online "flyers" for public 
consumption and an interactive set of chat rooms. The online flyers would 
be modeled on those of the LSA (FAQ 
<>) and cover relevant topics for our 
region (e.g., Appalachian English, Native American languages, region 
specific ethnic variation).  The chat rooms would allow the interested 
public from across the region a chance to virtually meet and discuss common 
interests. Expert monitors would be set up to respond to unanswered 
questions in the classroom and watch for hate speech.
Ø       High school honors program for young scholars interested in 
regional language scholarship. This program may take the form of either 
curricula designed for high school honors classes or even visiting teachers 
from universities.
Ø       CD-Rom atlas of the region (following Labov, William, Sharon Ash, & 
Charles Boberg. 2001. The Atlas of North American English. Mouton de 
Gruyter. See <> for details.)

Kirk Hazen, PhD
Director, West Virginia Dialect Project
dialect at
Department of English
West Virginia University
Morgantown WV 26506
(304) 293-3107 (p)
(304) 293-5380 (f)
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