[lg policy] Another Kind of Language Expert: Speakers

Janet Fuller jmfuller at SIU.EDU
Sat Jun 6 05:51:00 UTC 2009


What about when fathers are passing the language on to their children? ;)

On Sat, Jun 6, 2009 at 4:16 AM, Stan-sandy Anonby <stan-sandy_anonby at sil.org
> wrote:

> When can we consider a language revival program to be successful? I think
> Fishman would say we can breathe easier when mothers are passing the
> language onto their children. Intergenerational transmission is the natural
> way for people to learn a language. Is that happening in Maori? In
> Wampanoag? Either way, both cases are astonishing.
>
> Stan Anonby
>
> On Mon, 1 Jun 2009 17:08:42 -0400
>  Harold Schiffman <hfsclpp at gmail.com> wrote:
> >http://chronicle.com/weekly/v55/i38/38linguisticsside.htm
> >>From the issue dated June 5, 2009
> >
> >
> >Another Kind of Language Expert: Speakers
> >By PETER MONAGHAN
> >
> >As linguists search for ways to preserve at least a record of
> >endangered languages, they increasingly are enlisting native speakers
> >to help them in their work. Since 2003, Peter Austin's
> >endangered-languages program at the University of London's School of
> >Oriental and African Studies has run a master's program to train about
> >16 students each year, whose eventual goal is to document an
> >endangered language. Some 20 SOAS students have done that by
> >undertaking doctoral work in the United States or Germany.
> >
> >But Austin's program is also going out to the communities where
> >endangered languages are spoken. Last summer, program linguists held a
> >training course in Ghana to provide East African language activists
> >with equipment and training. Austin told them about successful earlier
> >efforts. He described, for instance, helping to persuade the state
> >government of New South Wales, in his native Australia, to institute
> >grade-school programs that teach Aboriginal children songs and stories
> >in their fading local languages. "Part of the task is simply
> >sensitizing people to the possibilities," he says.
> >
> >Increased collaboration with native speakers reflects a growing
> >recognition that "languages are owned by their native speech
> >communities, as a kind of intellectual property," says K. David
> >Harrison, of Swarthmore College. (His and colleagues' fieldwork was
> >the subject of the documentary film The Linguists, which was
> >enthusiastically received at last year's Sundance Film Festival.)
> >
> >The last speakers of a language are often the most linguistically
> >gifted members of their communities, and thus well suited to academic
> >training, notes Nicholas Evans, a linguist at Australian National
> >University. More's the pity that few universities will enroll them,
> >citing their lack of formal academic credentials, he says. He objects
> >that while candidates may enter Ph.D. programs with little or no
> >knowledge of the languages they will study, the potential of expert
> >speakers of languages rarely opens academic doors.
> >
> >Collaborations with native speakers become more and more crucial given
> >that "you wouldn't want to be sending your students into some of the
> >environments where documentation is needed," many of which are
> >dangerous because of wars or civil strife, says Suzanne Romaine, a
> >professor of English language at the University of Oxford.
> >
> >Sometimes native speakers can be found closer to home. "Here in
> >London, we've got dozens of African and Asian languages that there is
> >virtually no documentation on," says Austin. One of his students, for
> >example, discovered that a housemate, an economics student at the
> >London School of Economics and Political Science, spoke a little-known
> >Tibeto-Burman language. (Austin warns that hardened field linguists
> >will scoff that taking a London bus to your site, rather than jungle
> >trails, "is not real linguistics: It's not hairy-chested enough.")
> >
> >Crucial to any language-revival project, of course, is that speakers
> >want it to happen. Many do. In Hawaii and New Zealand, for example,
> >immersion programs are thriving — "language nests" that allow students
> >from preschool through college to take some of their studies in native
> >languages. Under a master-apprentice program set up in 1993 by the
> >Berkeley linguist Leanne Hinton, young American Indians in California
> >have spent many hours with elders, learning what they can about 50
> >survivors of the more than 100 languages that were spoken in the state
> >at the time of white settlement.
> >
> >Among a few astonishing cases of people's reviving their own languages
> >from seeming extinction is one in eastern Massachusetts. Beginning in
> >the 1990s, language activists and a linguist-in-training from the
> >Wampanoag tribe, working with a famed MIT linguist, the late Kenneth
> >L. Hale, resuscitated their language. It had not been spoken or
> >written for well over 100 years. To revive it, they used historical
> >documents dating back to the 1600s, surviving stories, and comparisons
> >with surviving languages, and taught it to a few children who were
> >still capable of using it creatively, as children naturally do when
> >learning any language.
> >
> >But such efforts are extraordinary: They are so dependent on a small
> >number of extremely gifted and motivated activists that they are
> >unlikely to be widely emulated.
> >
> >http://chronicle.com Section: The Chronicle Review
> >
> >
> >--
> >**************************************
> >N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
> >its members
> >and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
> >or sponsor of
> >the list as to the veracity of a message's contents. Members who
> >disagree with a
> >message are encouraged to post a rebuttal. (H. Schiffman, Moderator)
> >*******************************************
> >
> >_______________________________________________
> >This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
> >lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
> >To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format:
> https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list
>
> _______________________________________________
> This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
> lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
> To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format:
> https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list
>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lgpolicy-list/attachments/20090606/e7f3225e/attachment.html>
-------------- next part --------------
_______________________________________________
This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list


More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list