FEL Executive Committee member Sebastian Drude

In today’s blog post, we introduce another member of the FEL Executive Committee.

Sebastian Drude

Since March 2019 I have lived in Belém, Brazil, where I work as an associated researcher at the Linguistics Division of the Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, holding a senior post-doctoral research-grant from the Brazilian government. This is my second time here: I was previously a guest researcher with the Museu Goeldi from 1997 to 2011, when I studied and documented the Aweti language in Mato Grosso. The Aweti live in the Upper Xingu cultural area together with nine other ethnic groups speaking six languages of different families. Aweti is a Tupian language and had about 90 speakers when I initiated research in 1998; today they are more than 200. These worrying numbers alone were reason enough for me to get interested in language endangerment, and engaging in the new field of language documentation.

As a German documentary-anthropological linguist I am interested in linguistic diversity, and also in language technology. I obtained a Dr. Phil degree at the Freie Universität Berlin in 2002 while doing fieldwork and language documentation within the DOBES programme (2000–2006). From 2008 to 2011 I held a Dilthey-Fellowship developing a digital grammar of Aweti at the Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, where I continue to be affiliated as Privatdozent. From November 2011, I was Scientific Coordinator and Head of The Language Archive, Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics. Then, in 2015-2016, I was General Coordinator in the European Language research infrastructure CLARIN ERIC, followed by two years as Director of the Vigdís International Centre, University of Iceland.

I believe that FEL is an important institution with a huge potential to raise interest in endangered languages and support their study. It was a pleasure to me to host the 2018 FEL conference in Reykjavík, Iceland, and to take a role in FEL publications, co-editing the first digital proceedings volume, published by EL Publishing.

FEL Executive Committee member Peter Austin

In today’s post, we introduce another Executive Committee member.

Peter K. Austin

I live in the UK where I am Emeritus Professor in Field Linguistics at SOAS, University of London, and Visiting Researcher at Oxford University. Previously, I was Foundation Chair in Linguistics at University of Melbourne (1996-2001) and Marit Rausing Chair in Field Linguistics at SOAS (2002-2018).

I have been working with speakers of highly endangered Australian Aboriginal languages for 48 years in New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia (documenting 12 languages). I have published books, articles, dictionaries, and websites (including the first fully hypertext bilingual dictionary (of Gamilaraay), co-authored with FEL EC member David Nathan).

Since 2013 I have been collaborating with the Dieri Aboriginal Corporation, running community-based workshops and preparing materials for linguistic and cultural revival, described on the Ngayana Diyari Yawarra Yathayilha blog. Since 2018 I have been working with the Yinggarda, Bayungu and Thalanyji communities to create bilingual dictionaries and learning materials for linguistic and cultural revival. I am collaborating with the Baiyungu Aboriginal Corporation and the WA Parks and Wildlife Service on linguistic and cultural aspects of a joint management plan for the Nyinggulu (Ningaloo) Marine Park.

I established the journal Language Documentation and Description in 2003 and am co-founding editor of the free open access platform EL Publishing. In 2018 we worked with FEL to publish its first online Conference Proceedings.

I have collaborated on summer schools and training courses for endangered languages documentation, description and revitalisation, including working with minority language speakers, in UK, Sweden, Italy, Germany, France, Estonia, Poland, Argentina, USA, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, and India. In 2020 I will participate in events in Germany, Italy, Australia, and India. I have given numerous conference talks, public lectures, and outreach events advocating for endangered languages and their speakers, and published a book called 1,000 Languages on language diversity for a general audience (translated into Dutch, German, Italian, Romanian, Spanish, Polish, Estonian, Icelandic, Japanese, Chinese). I am currently co-editor of the FEL blog and the FEL Facebook page.

FEL Executive Committee member Ichchha Purna Rai

This post introduces another member of the FEL Executive Committee.

Ichchha Purna Rai

I live in Nepal and have been working since 2009 as a lecturer at Dhankuta Multiple Campus, which is affiliated with Tribhuvan University. I am currently President of Tribhuvan University Teachers’ Association, Dhankuta Multiple Campus Unit Committee (2019-2022). Before teaching at Tribhuvan University, I worked as a research assistant on the Chintang Puma Documentation Project (CPDP), which was funded from 2004 to 2009 by the Volkswagen Foundation in its DoBeS programme. After that project, my interest began in endangered languages documentation, and I started to document and analyse endangered languages of Nepal. I have involved in documentation of five endangered Kiranti languages of Nepal so far, namely Chhintang, Chhulung, Belhare, the Mugali variety of Yakkha, and Wambule. On the basis of this documentation and analysis, I have published articles in national and international journals, and in 2018 I published a book entitled Chhintang Mundum Text: Interpretation and Translation into English with Lambert Academic Publishing.

My main interests are endangered languages documentation, oral literature, multilingualism, and critical pedagogy.

FEL Executive Committee member Eda Derhemi

In this blog post, we introduce another member of the FEL executive committee.

Eda Derhemi

I live in Champaign, Illinois, USA and was born in Albania, where I completed my undergraduate education and then worked for five years at the University of Tirana. After this, I lived for five years in Sicily, and then completed my graduate studies in linguistics and communications at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) where I now teach linguistics and Italian language in the Department of French and Italian.

I first encountered linguistic endangerment in practical terms, and then theoretically, during my years in Sicily, and have often visited two strongholds of the endangered Arbëresh language (related to Albanian), Piana degli Albanesi and Contessa Entellina. I have conducted sociolinguistic studies on Arbëresh (in 50 villages) that are not just descriptive accounts of different linguistic systems of the language, but are led by a theoretical framework of language endangerment guided by the pioneering studies of Fishman and Dorian. In the last five years I have undertaken fieldwork on Arvanitika, another Albanian language spoken throughout Greece, working mostly in Attika, Thives, Levadia and Hydra. Arvanitika is a severely endangered language; its speakers and socio-political conditions show traits that are completely opposite to those of Arbëresh.

I am also active in Albanian public communication as a writer, essayist, and literary critic, and have recently translated poetry and prose, including Miele sul coltello by Romeo Çollaku (co-translated from Albanian to Italian with Francesco Ferrari). I have served as a FEL executive committee member since 2018, and recently agreed to contribute regularly to the Ogmios newsletter and assist Chris Moseley, the editor.

FEL Executive Committee member Chris Moseley

In today’s post, we introduce another member of the FEL Executive Committee.

Chris Moseley

My interest in endangered languages began in my native Australia, but formal involvement with language minorities began with my fieldwork on the Livonian language of Latvia (1987-1993). Simultaneously I worked as co-editor of the Routledge Atlas of the World’s Languages, now in its third edition (in preparation). Since 2008 I have been editor of the UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, soon to become the World Atlas of Languages.

I work as Teaching Fellow in Estonian language at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. I also teach Latvian there. Apart from that I work as a freelance translator. On the Executive Committee of FEL I have served as Treasurer, later as editor of the Ogmios newsletter, and most recently as the Advocacy and Campaigns Officer. Over the years I have helped in the preparation of annual conferences, and assessing applications for grants. I believe that our Foundation has an irreplaceable and valuable role to play, even on a relatively modest scale, in protecting the world’s language diversity.

FEL Executive Committee member Muhammad Zaman Sagar

This post introduces another member of the FEL Executive Committee.

Muhammad Zaman Sagar

I live in Islamabad, Pakistan, and work as a Senior Advocacy Officer for Forum of Language Initiatives (FLI) and Executive Director of the Gawri Community Development Programme (GCDP). I have been working on language development since 1992, and with FLI since 2004. I am a language and education activist, researcher, linguist, advocate, and mobilizer for the marginalized language communities of Pakistan. I have more than a dozen publications on language issues.

My expertise is also in the field of Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education (MTB-MLE) and the use of the guide and tools for Planning the Future of Our Language (PFOL) developed by SIL International.

FEL Executive Committee member Joseph Osoba

In today’s post, we introduce another member of the FEL Executive Committee.

Joseph Babasola Osoba

I live in Nigeria and teach English Linguistics as an Associate Professor at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike, Ikwo, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State. I taught at the Department of English, University of Lagos, Akoka from 1999 to 2016. I have also taught at the Elizade University, Ilara- Mokin as an Associate Professor and Acting Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba- Akoko, Ondo State, as a Lecturer and an Adjunct Senior Lecturer. I have given a couple of lectures relating to language attitudes and preferences. For more information see here.

My current research relates to the causes of and solutions to language endangerment in Nigeria.  As a promoter of mother tongue education, I believe that indigenous languages can, when standardised, become sources of employment, commerce, and social and political advancement through their value. My slogan is: That our languages may not disappear.

FEL Executive Committee member Cassie Smith-Christmas

In today’s post, we introduce another member of the FEL Executive Committee.

Cassie Smith-Christmas

I live in Ireland and am a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Fellow in the Roinn na Gaeilge at the National University of Ireland, Galway. I have done  extensive research within the sociolinguistic sub-field known as ‘Family Language Policy’ and previously worked at the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Irish Research Council, the Institute for the Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh, and Soillse, the inter-university Scottish Gaelic research network, at the University of the Highlands and Islands (more details are here).

My interest in endangered languages began when I was six or seven years old. My parents were always playing Scottish and Irish music at home, including songs in the Scottish Gaelic and Irish languages. I quickly came to love many of those songs (although saying that my favourite song in the world was ‘Fear A’ Bhàta’ certainly didn’t help me fit in with my peers at school in Virginia, USA!).  In my third year of university, I took a class with Peter Mülhäusler, University of Adelaide, during study abroad, and since then, I have studied issues related to endangered languages, particularly looking at language transmission in the family.  I am the author of Family Language Policy:  Maintaining an Endangered Language in the Home and co-editor Gaelic in Contemporary Scotland:  The Revitalisation of an Endangered Language and New Speakers of Minority Languages: Linguistic Ideologies and Practices.

I am co-editor of the FEL blog, and am keen to facilitate a space for speakers of endangered languages to share their stories, as well as create a forum for academics working on minoritised languages to share their thoughts in an accessible, engaging way.  If you have an idea for a blog post, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me!

FEL Executive Committee member Tjeerd de Graaf

In today’s post, we introduce another member of the FEL Executive Committee.

Tjeerd de Graaf

I live in the Netherlands and am associated with the Mercator Centre of the Fryske Akademy in Ljouwert (Leeuwarden). My current interest is the digitisation and description of analogue sound recordings and their use for scientific and educational purposes. Some of my own material is related to the language of the Siberian Mennonites who spoke Plautdietsch, a variety of Low German, which is related to dialects in the North of the Netherlands. 

In 2019 we finished the publication of a volume with articles on historical data for several languages in Eurasia, including Uralic languages in a book on North and East Tartary by the Amsterdam scholar Nicolaas Witsen. My work is also related to the Foundation for Siberian Cultures and the publication of regional dossiers on the teaching of minority languages by the Mercator Centre of the Frisian Academy. We prepared several issues in this series, such one on the teaching of Hungarian in Slovakia, Romania, Slovenia and Ukraine, as well as of some languages of Russia (Nenets, Khanty, Selkup, Udmurt). More information is available on my website of the Mercator Centre.

FEL Executive Committee member Maya David

In today’s post, we introduce another member of the FEL Executive Committee.

Maya David

I live in Malaysia and am Honorary Professor in the Asia-Europe Institute, University of Malaya. I have been examining the Sindhi Hindu community in different parts of the world. My studies show that many of this diasporic community have shifted away from the use of their ethnic language.  We now need to know the reasons for the shift and how we can revitalise the use of the language.  For my studies on minority communities in Malaysia I was awarded the Linguapax Prize in 2007.  For more information see my website.

I am involved in helping  FEL to evaluate grant applications and abstracts for the yearly conferences. I am also a member of the Linguapax Committee, another NGO that researches language choice, shift, and endangered languages.