Foundation for Endangered Languages
2. Development of the Foundation
Announcing Our Second Round of Grants
A call for proposals was issued early in October 1998, and despite the restricted period in which the call was open, 30 applications were received in time for the closing date of 7 November. The FEL Committee, who in this act as the Selection Panel, decided that our finances allowed the award of £1,500 sterling in grants this year. Higher than last year by perhaps 50%, but nothing like as high as we need: our funds were oversubscribed by a factor of 8. Since subscriptions remain practically FEL’s only source of finance , this in itself is a strong argument for our members to keep themselves in good standing!
In future it will be our policy to encourage all applicants to become members of the Foundation, since this would add significantly to the funds available for award.
The criteria for proposals are not distinct from the categories of the application form, which is available at our web-site. It was a heart-rending task to make the selection, since the vast majority of proposals were satisfactory under all the criteria; but besides requiring excellence in all aspects, the Committee also hoped to select a list which was spread geographically and varied in terms of the kind of work to be undertaken.
In the end it proved possible to stretch the funds to offer material support to four projects.
G.Holton documentation of Tanacross (Alaska) £400
For those who were not so lucky, we can only urge applicants to re-direct their efforts to the Endangered Language Fund, whose call for proposals remains open.
FEL had promised to declare the results by the end of the year. The couple of weeks’ delay which has overrun this deadline is solely due to the fact that referees have in some cases been very slow in returning their statements. Strangely, the one respect in which almost all applicants were deficient was in disregarding the requirement to get references to us at the same time as their proposals!
FEL’s Second Conference: Outcome
This event, which took as its theme “What Rôle for the Specialist?”, was held in Edinburgh from 25 to 27 September 1998. It was attended by about 70 people, with representatives from every continent. Besides the speakers of the published programme (given in the last issue of Ogmios), one of the conference’s most affecting features was the Open Forum, where many more speakers could share their concerns. These included:
Ole Stig Andersen The Burial of Ubykh
After the conference, I sent out the following reflections on what we had learnt there.
Social Role of the Specialist
Vulnerable Position of Indigenous Teachers
Very often, such teachers have serious problems in obtaining adequate payment for their efforts.
Nevertheless, the work of such teachers is likely to be crucial; so authorities within the communities must be urged to concentrate on these problems.
Religion and Language
The Two-Edged Sword of Education
Influence of an International Organization
Where Weakness is a Strength
Rising to Challenges
Help vs Cooperation
This situation is somewhat different for the speakers of minority languages in Europe, since they are often at a point where explicit confrontation with national governments (or international organziations) may be necessary in order to guarantee their rights. Nevertheless, the value of international solidarity and cooperation remains. e.g. Slovenian (Petek), Flemish (Hardie)
The main substantive comment received came from Doug Whalen, President of the Endangered Language Fund. (I have added the emphasis to one crucial sentence.)
Date: Thu, 12 Nov 1998 15:49:46 -0500
My own thinking about my organization, the Endangered Language Fund, is that we will continue to fund those projects that accomodate to the need for linguistic input along with the cooperation of the native community. Those (many) cases where either aspect is lacking will simply not register. Since we cannot at present fund all of the excellent projects within these constraints, it seems that we have enough to do. Since our efforts must always fall short (languages will die no matter what we do), I feel that coherent limits are useful. It is pleasing to me that the natural tendency for different groups to attend to different aspects of the problems is apparent in your notes. I feel that our relatively uncoordinated efforts are, so far, still in tune.
As always, best of luck, Doug DhW
Discussions are now under way on the publication of the Proceedings. However, the volume (+ supplement) as available at the Conference itself is still available for purchase ((at) 12 pounds sterling, including postage and packing).
FEL Executive Committee Meeting, University of Edinburgh Pollock Halls, 27 September 98, 2pm
(Minutes taken by Heather King in the absence of a secretary.)
Present: Nick Ostler, Margaret Allan, Heather King, Alasdair MacCaluim, Ole Stig Andersen (items 1-4), Mari Rhydwen (item 4), Tapani Salminen (items 5-10)
1. Appointment of Officers.
Nick Ostler President
Nominated committee members:
Constitution needs to be amended to allow a greater number of committee members. Nick will send a copy of the constitution to all members (existing and potential) of the Committee, with a proposal for amendment. *ACTION Nick
It was proposed by Nick that those present at this meeting act as a de facto committee.
Margaret declared herself to be overloaded by the duties of Treasurer, Membership Secretary, and Conference Organiser. Nick suggested that Margaret propose a way to split the duties of Treasurer and Membership Secretary. Margaret will look for someone in York to take over the duties of Membership Secretary. *ACTION Margaret
2. Remuneration of Secretary.
Nick declared that the matter of finding someone to take on the duties of secretary could be done through correspondence. *ACTION Nick
3. Minutes of last meeting (Oxford, June 5 1998).
4. Fund raising and publicity.
Mari suggested that she could get sponsors for her boat trip.
Nick suggested that FEL approach organisations with money to distribute to good causes, such as the Toyota Foundation. A list of such organisations would need to be compiled and volunteers found to approach them.
Ole suggested that FEL must get more human interest stories in the mass media to raise awareness and thus funds. Ole also suggested that we could have an endangered language of the year to raise awareness. Nick expressed concerns that making a community into a celebrity would limit their freedom.
Nick recalled David Cheezem's idea (in 1996) of having an International Endangered Languages Day. It had attracted support all over the world, but ultimately had been left aside. According to David Cheezem (writing on EL List), this had been because individual language communities had seen it as something of a distraction from their real activities. Alasdair drew the meeting's attention to the 25th anniversary of the death of the last Manx speaker (Ned Maddrell) next September. He suggested the FEL could do something with this to raise awareness.
*ACTION Alasdair - formulate plan to mark Anniversary of Maddrell's death, perhaps in cooperation with Celtic League or others.
Nick noted that Ogmios includes an obituary section for languages, but has found it hard to get appropriate information regularly.
Ole suggested a web page with a personalised list of last speakers of languages. This would include photos of the speakers, etc. but would only be posted with the permission of each speaker. This would be a resource for people wanting to write stories on endangered languages.
Ole will prepare details (including feasibility, possible cost) of making a magazine directed to the public. People could subscribe so that they feel they are at least contributing something towards language maintenance - in much the same way that the Greenpeace magazine functions.
Alasdair suggested developing a small article spelling out the functions and aims of FEL for other organisations to include in their newsletters, etc.
Ole suggested that FEL make a database of our own articles on endangered languages which could be sent to magazines/newsletters of relevant organisations - he knows of lists of these organisations on the web.
*ACTION Ole (to send details of such lists to Nick)
Nick will issue call for grant applications to members by email. The deadline for applications will be October 31 1998.
Nick informed the meeting that four grant proposals have already been received by FEL. All members of the Committee will be sent copies of the grant applications by mid-November to allow time to read them before the grant allocations is discussed and decided at the next meeting.
Nick informed the meeting that there was one grantee from the last round who had not submitted a report yet. Heather offered to contact the grantee and inform him that he needed to submit his report by October 31 1998. Heather suggested that in future FEL retain 10% of the value of each grant until a report from the grantee has been received. This was agreed by the meeting.
*ACTION Chris Moseley to update rules of procedure for grant allocation.
It was decided that when calls for the next round of grants go out it will include the total amount that FEL expects to have available to allocate. This allows FEL flexibility in the amount it allocates to each grantee and does not commit FEL to an absolute amount before it knows how much it will have to distribute, whilst giving the applicants a general idea of the amount they could aim for.
*ACTION Margaret, to inform Nick (and Chris) of such total amount as soon as it is known.
7. Topics for future discussion.
8. Web page and Ogmios.
Heather volunteered to take over the copying and mailing out of Ogmios. Nick will send her a camera-ready version from which she will have 200 copies made. Margaret will send Heather a cheque for £200 for copying and a cheque for £80 for postage as soon as the camera-ready version is ready.
9. Next conference.
Nick will organise the publication of the proceedings of the 1998 conference. *ACTION Nick, Alasdair
10. Next meeting.
FEL Executive Committee Meeting, Batheaston Villa, 28 November 98, 2pm
Present: Nick Ostler, Chris Moseley, Margaret Allen, Nigel Birch, Alasdair MacCaluim, Heather King
0. Appointment of Secretary
1. Minutes of last meeting
2. Matters arising
3. Financial matters
Travel expenses to meeting to be paid to committee £169.82
4. Membership matters
The issue of a replacement membership secretary was carried over. Nick suggested Mukul Saxena in York as a possibility.
5. Fund raising
He mentioned that it would be possible to use the list of unfunded proposals to give content to DEL’s approach to them; or to single out particular projects and approach a foundation with a definite proposal.
*ACTION: Nick to write to all of the foundations.
It was therefore decided to go £50 over the £1500 limit.
Nick asked committee to email him with any suggestions of improvements to the application form.
It was decided that in future a membership form will be sent out with each application form for grants. Membership will not be a condition of applying for a grant but applicants will be strongly encouraged because this is what keeps FEL going.
Edinburgh conference proceedings are being considered by editors of Multilingual Matters - waiting for response.
8. Next conference
Chris suggested the topic of Language and Education. which met with general agreement.
Conference subcommittee to be set up - Nick and Chris volunteered.
*ACTION: Nick to consult members for other volunteers.
Nigel suggested two conference fee scales - one for members and one for non-members. The non-members fee would amount to more than the members fee and members subscription combined to encourage delegates to become members.
Alasdair is planning to write an article for a Gaelic newspaper as a representative of FEL in co-operation with the Manx Language Officer to commemorate the 25th anniversary death of Ned Maddrell.
10. Changes to constitution
13. Next meeting
14. Other business