Providing resources and trai­ning in the practices and tools of the digital humanities

STEPS & Models


18 June 2012, 8.30 am – 4.30 pm

Instructors: Alice Taff, Marsha Hotch, Kennedy Bosire, Carlos Nash, Helen Aristar-Dry, Anthony Aristar

Steps 1 is an all-day plenary Workshop held at the beginning of CoLang on 18 June 2012, 8.30am-4.30pm in Watson 3 West. Its goal is for participants to come away with a basic understanding of what it means to be an indigenous language learner in today’s world, and a conceptual understanding of how to collaborate in the creation and implementation of relevant endangered language projects/programs while working in Indigenous communities and/or Indian Country today. We also discuss the typical workflow of such projects and some of the many ethical issues that arise. It is our hope that we will be able to inspire every participant, whether linguist, Indigenous/First Nations person, Indigenous/First Nations linguist, scholar or friend, to create a work plan or list of ideas for future steps in their own language revitalization work. All of these issues are explored in more detail in the individual Workshops, which begin the following day.


29 June 2012, 9 am – 12 noon Watson 3 West

Instructors: Colleen Fitzgerald, Stephanie Fielding, Carlos Nash and Arienne Dwyer

Steps 2 is a half-day plenary Workshop held at the end of CoLang on 29 June 2012, 9am-12 pm. Through review of the entire workflow as well as human and social issues, Steps 2 facilitates digestion of the overwhelming amount of information and practical experience gained in the previous two weeks. A facilitated discussion rounds out the morning closing session.

MODELS of Successful Documentation and Revitalization

19-22 June, 25-28 June 2012, 1-2pm Watson 3 West

Models a daily plenary lecture series given every non-plenary weekday of the Workshops from 1:00pm-2:00pm (). These talks are open to the public and designed to showcase a variety of approaches taken by different communities and community partners to maintain or revitalize their languages. Each day a presentation will be given by one or more practitioners who will discuss the context of languages under threat in their community and efforts that have been taken to maintain and/or revitalize their language. Many presenters cover a range of issues including historical factors leading to language contraction, contexts of language use, education and literacy, organizations, resources, goals, methods, training, challenges, and successes. As the presenters represent speech communities from across the world, we hope that this workshop will bring us all to a deeper understanding of the wide range of contexts in which language maintenance and revitalization work is taking place, as well as the importance of that context to a community’s selection of appropriate goals and techniques.

Models Schedule (all talks 1-2pm in Watson 3 West):

Tuesday, June 19

The Drama of Dictionaries: Borrowings and Diglossia in the Upper Sorbian Community

Elizabeth Spreng (independent scholar)

The emotional impact of a historical inequality, lexical change, and contemporary discussions about German borrowings are prerequisites to working with the Sorbs, an endangered-language community in eastern Germany. Through an anthropological approach focused on linguistic questions, I consider how Sorbs (currently numbering 10,000 Upper Sorbian speakers), encounter difficulties choosing between German and Sorbian resources. An ethnographic approach can inform language documentation by actively involving speakers in revealing how they are fighting for their language and experiencing everyday dramas about their lexical choices.

Speaker Bio: As a linguistic anthropologist, Dr. Elizabeth Spreng (U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ph.D. 2011) investigates bilingualism, language endangerment, globalization, and emotions. During her doctoral research in Germany, Dr. Spreng worked closely with speakers of Upper Sorb, an endangered Slavic language. Her earlier research (Louisiana State U M.A., 2001) includes a discourse analysis of the 1999 Barbara Walters/Monica Lewinsky interview and a secondary project focused on Mardi Gras narratives.

Wednesday, June 20

North American Indian Sign Language Model

Melanie McKay-Cody

The grammar of signed languages embeds cultural information, just as that of spoken languages does. My presentation will briefly introduce signed languages grammar, and then contrast American Sign Language (ASL) with Plains Indian Sign Language (PISL). I explain some of the transcription system and analytic methods, and will demonstrate a number of culturally-specific signs.

Melanie McKay-Cody is Cherokee/Choctaw and European-American, from Oklahoma. She is a signed languages linguist and has expertise in American Indians who are deaf, hard of hearing and deaf-blind. She is a published author on the endangered Plains Indian Sign Language, and will be a PhD student in KU Anthropology beginning in August 2012.

Thursday, June 21

Pillow ears and stone foreigners in the corner: Long-term collaboration in Inner Asia

Wen Xiangcheng and Arienne Dwyer

When do pillows have ears but people no mouths? If foreigners sit in the corner of a Mangghuer household like a stone, can that be a good thing? Wen and Arienne began working together on 12 years ago on Mangghuer (mjg-se) linguistic and cultural practices as part of a larger documentation project on Mongolic and Turkic speakers in Amdo Tibet. In this talk, we reflect on our community-driven genre sampling, the uses and annoyances of foreign researchers, and illustrate these points with ethnographic video.

Speaker Bios: Wen Xiangcheng is a Mangghuer artist and current KU Anthropology graduate student who has been a central researcher in several linguistic and ethnomusicological research projects of his language and culture. He will soon embark on a video ethnography of the exotic Lawrence arts community. Arienne Dwyer has worked with and for Inner and Central Asian communities for over twenty years: Mangghuer/Monguor, Baonan, Wutun, Salar, Uyghur, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Amdo Tibetan, NW Chinese. She is P.I. and co-director of this Institute.



Friday, June 22

Collaborative Development of Tlingit Language Resources

Marsha Hotch (Tlingit) and Alice Taff (U Alaska-Fairbanks)

We will show Tlingit language print, audio, and video resources that are available to and useful for both learners and linguists. We’ll discuss the collaboration among individuals, tribes, corporations, funding agencies, and academics that has made these resources possible.

Speaker bios: Marsha Hotch is the youngest female first-language speaker of Tlingit. She has worked in her village and throughout the Tlingit region teaching the language in the schools and though community activities. She designed and implemented a mentor-apprentice and junior-apprentice program in her community, documenting program activities in video and audio and archiving the results. She has developed curriculum and facilitated language camps. She is currently working on transcription and translation projects, and teaching 2nd and 3rd year Tlingit at the U of Alaska-SE. She co-produced “Tlingit Time”, a radio show that continues to air statewide in Alaska, and received the Alaska Governor’s award for the Humanities in 2007 for her work with Tlingit language.

Alice Taff, PhD, is Research Asst. Prof. of Alaska Native Languages at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau. She has worked with Unangam Tunuu (ale, Aleut), Deg Xinag (ing), Haida (hdn), and Tlingit (tli). She has recently been engaged in projects to video record conversations in Unangam Tunuu and Tlingit, and provides time-aligned transcription and translation for the recording. She collaborates with communities to in their efforts to implement language perpetuation efforts.

Monday, June 25

Amazigh Teaching Between Dialectology and Standardization, Loss and Revitalization/Maintenance

Yamina El-Kirat

The presentation will focus on the challenges facing the standardization of the Amazigh (Berber) language given the regional variations and the phenomenon of loss some varieties have been undergoing. The native speakers’ attitudes and perceptions of the teaching, standardization and officialization of the language will also be presented.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Yamina El-Kirat is a Professor of Lin­guistics in the English Department and current director of the research group Culture, language, Education, Society and Development and the doctoral program Studies in Language & Society at the University Mohammed V-Agdal in Rabat. Professor El Kirat has taught and carried out research in general and Amazigh linguistics (phonetics, phonology, morphology, sociolinguistics and language endangerment) for more than 27 years. Professor El-Kirat is also offering a Practicum in Amazigh at KU this July.

Tuesday, June 26

Fishing in the Atlantic!

Eno-Abasi Urua

Uda is located close to the Atlantic Ocean in the oil-rich Niger Delta southeast of Nigeria, where maritime activities result in multilingualism and multiculturalism. As a result, the Uda language with its cultural practices has become highly endangered. The documentation of the Uda group is part of the Akwa Ibom State policy, but the methodology is a bit different than that for other languages of the area.

Documenting a language without the active involvement of community members often leads to failed projects, as Grinevald (2003) discusses. In the Uda documentation project, we report on how the active involvement and partnership between the academia and community members has led to refreshing and useful results. We shall, if time permits, discuss the other projects we are working on in Uyo, Nigeria.

Speaker bio: Eno-Abasi Urua teaches linguistics in the Department of Linguistics & Nigerian Languages, University of Uyo, Nigeria. Professor Urua is also offering a Practicum with two Uda Language Consultants at KU this July.



Wednesday, June 27

You Want Me to do What?

Stephanie Fielding (Mohegan)

The last fluent speaker of your tribe died over a hundred years ago. The first two attempts at reviving the language were expensive and unsuccessful. You are now the tribe’s Obi-Wan Kenobi…without a light saber, but not without resources. What do you do next? Building the lexicon and enriching the grammar; avoiding pitfalls; seeing to the tribe’s linguistic needs; using the technology available and teaching.

Speaker bio: Stephanie Fielding is a member of the Mohegan Tribal Council of Elders in Uncasville, Connecticut (USA) and holds an MA from MIT’s Linguistics department. She has created podcasts and language materials of Mohegan, largely based on her great-grandmother’s diaries:

Thursday, June 28

Wearing Different Hats: Collaborative Roles in Language Documentation and Revitalization

Lizette Peter, Tracy Hirata-Edds (University of Kansas)

This talk will present our experiences with various types of collaborative projects in language documentation and revitalization, including the diverse roles of participants. We will also discuss keys components and challenges of our collaborative work.

Speaker Bios: Lizette Peter is an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Teaching at the University of Kansas. Her research and teaching interests are in the areas of TESOL and endangered language revitalization. Tracy Hirata-Edds is a Lecturer in the Applied English Center at the University of Kansas. Her interests include endangered language and cultural maintenance, revitalization, and documentation, as well as children’s first and second language development. Lizette and Tracy are working on several projects in collaboration with Cherokee Nation, including a language immersion school and a U.S. NSF-Documenting Endangered Languages- funded project to document Cherokee tone, a collaborative project that brings together colleagues from Cherokee Nation, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Kansas.

There will also be a Cherokee language Practicum in July at CoLang 2012.

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