Funding possibility: Documentation of Endangered Languages

Randy LaPolla R.LaPolla at
Thu Jun 9 10:04:44 UTC 2011

Name: Documentation of Endangered Languages

Sponsor: Volkswagen Foundation

Deadline: 9/15/2011

Amount: Varies

Type: Arts & Culture, Social & Economic, Education

Description: In view of the foreseeable fact that some languages will
rapidly become extinct within a mere one to two generations,
systematic documentation would appear to be the task which most
urgently needs to be tackled. Such documentation should be
characterized by three key terms: data orientation,
multifunctionality, and general accessibility.

The exemplary character of the program does not only pertain to the
final product of the documentation of individual languages, but also
to developing and testing new methods of researching, processing and
archiving linguistic and cultural data. The program has a strong
interdisciplinary orientation: it not only supports interdisciplinary
data collection, it also intends to create opportunities for
subsequent multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary utilization of the
respective data.

Two types of projects are funded:
(a) Documentation projects which collect, process and archive
linguistic and cultural data for (at least) one endangered language
lacking sufficient documentation. Existing field material (audio,
video, film, photo, texts) may be integrated into the planned
documentation, but should be combined with new data collections.
(b) Documentation projects which use the DobeS archive for scientific
purposes for example for comparative studies but also to detect new
research questions connecting documentation linguistics with other
branches of linguistics.

A language shall be deemed to be endangered if, especially for
political and economic reasons, its speech community has ceased to
speak it in public in favor of the language of the surrounding
dominant culture. As a rule, the status of such a language
deteriorates to that of a "home language" until, finally, its native
speakers adopt the externally conveyed negative attitude towards it
and cease to pass it on to their children. Documentation projects may
focus on endangered dialects, moribund languages as well as sign
languages, too.

Additional Contact:
Peter Wittenburg (for technical information)
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen
Phone +31 24 3 52 11 13
Fax +31 24 3 52 12 13
peter.wittenburg at

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