Foundation for Endangered Languages

Home | Manifesto | Membership details | Proceedings | Grant Applications | Newsletter | Links | Bibliography


2. Development of the Foundation

The Language Challenge

Announcing an innovative way to raise money for your Charity…

So runs a recent press release from the Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (CILT). And we know, or at least we hope, that your favourite charity is the Foundation.

So, what do you do? Read on…..

2001 is European Year of Languages and CILT has come up with a cunning plan. If you are learning, or want to learn, a language, then:

  • set yourself a task to be completed in that language by the European Day of Languages (Wednesday 26th September)
  • get sponsorship from friends, family work mates – whoever - for completing this.

If you're going to do this, CILT would like you to register by phoning LearnDirect (0800 100 900 in the UK) or visiting

Obviously we hope that FEL will be your chosen charity and I'd like to know what you're doing as well - so please let me know.

We shall cover the challenges people set themselves in future issues of Ogmios. This could be your chance to come to grips with that language that has always tantalized you (sisyphized you?) from afar...

Nigel Birch, 55 Severn Avenue, Greenmeadow, Swindon SN2 3LL, England

Call for Abstracts: FEL V: "Endangered Languages and the Media", Agadir, Morocco. 21-24 Sept. 2001

Among the most powerful instruments of the process we have come to know as "globalization" are the mass media. Through the medium of the written and spoken word, the increasingly concentrated ownership of the worlds mass media exercises a strong influence on the hearts and minds of all but the very remotest of the worlds languages. The pattern of use and control of the worlds press and broadcasting has shifted even faster than the speed of shrinkage of the worlds minority languages.

What exactly is the relationship between the globalization of the media and increased pressure on minority languages? Is there a hopeful side, as the cost and technology bases of the media are revolutionized? The fifth international conference of the Foundation for Endangered Languages aims to pinpoint the processes and seek new tactics for coping with them: hoping, at the very least, to channel some of the power of the media for the good of small languages.

We hope to find answers to many questions, not all of them obvious. For example:
· what effect does the global availability of satellite broadcasting have on the worlds smaller languages?
· what is the meaning of a free press if some languages are denied a voice in it?
· must the Internet inevitably exclude smaller languages from access to the electronic media, or is it ultimately a force for diversity?
· is a big fashionable metropolitan language always the guarantee of commercial success in the music recording industry?
· how can speakers of minority languages get access to training in journalism?
· is it the states responsibility to subsidize broadcasting in minority languages? Why?
· what happens when emigrant communities abroad are better served by media in their new country than those from their old home?

To seek answers to these and other questions, the Foundation for Endangered Languages hereby calls for papers to be presented at its fifth conference, 'Endangered Languages and the Media', planned for the University of Agadir, Morocco, for 21-24 September 2001.

It is no coincidence that we choose this venue for the conference, at the heart of one of the most promising regions of Morocco in terms of economic activity, but also in terms of intellectual activity trying to come to terms with the identity crisis that faces most North Africans. In Agadir, as in most of Morocco and North Africa, the streets echo with a polyphony of local and foreign languages: Tashelhit (Southern Amazigh, known as Berber), Darija (Moroccan Arabic), as well as Standard Arabic, French, Spanish, English and the occasional note of German, Italian or Japanese.

Agadir, on the Atlantic coast of southern Morocco, has great sweeping beaches but none of the nondescript high rise blocks of the Mediterranean beach resorts. For those interested in wildlife, in September the River Sous can provide a rich variety of migrating seabirds and waders. The river valley itself is one of the most famous ornithological regions in the country. Agadir was first settled by Hanno, a Carthaginian explorer on his way south round Africa in the 5th century BC. 2000 years later, ca 1500, it was re-founded as a Portuguese staging-post for more sustained circumnavigation. It came under Moroccan rule around 1536.

We invite contributions not only from the academic disciplines of linguistics and media studies, but also from active practitioners in the field those with first-hand experience from which we can learn of the worlds threatened languages and their struggle for survival and equal status with those of international communication in the ether and on the printed page. We have much to learn from each other, and we invite you to share your knowledge and experience with us in the beautiful setting of an ancient city that has long been at the crossroads of communication between Europe and Africa. The conference will also provide ample opportunity to explore the surrounding area as well.

The Foundation for Endangered Languages is a registered charity in England and Wales. FEL conferences, besides being opportunities to discuss the issues from a global viewpoint, are working meetings of the Foundation, defining our overall policy for future years. Participants at the conference therefore, unless offering media coverage, need to be members of the Foundation. There are full facilities to join on arrival, but all proposers are strongly urged to join as soon as possible, and so take full part in the Foundation's activities in the lead-up to the conference.

Presentations will last twenty minutes each, with a further ten minutes for discussion. Authors will be expected to submit a written paper for publication in the Proceedings well in advance of the conference. All presentations should be accessible largely in English, but use of the languages of interest, for quotation or exemplification, may well be appropriate.

Hassan Ouzzate Ibn Zohr University, Agadir, Morocco
Nicholas Ostler FEL, Bath, England
Chris Moseley BBC Monitoring Service
Nigel Birch EPSRC, United Kingdom
McKenna Brown Virginia Commonwealth University, USA

Abstract Submission
Abstracts should not exceed 500 words. They can be submitted in either of two ways: (preferably) by electronic submission, but also on paper. They should be in English.

A) Electronic submission:
Electronic submission (by 15 April 2001) should be in plain ascii text email message to, giving details as for the paper submission.

B) Paper abstracts:

Three copies should be sent, (again, for delivery by 15 April 2001), to:

Christopher Moseley, 2 Wanbourne Lane, Nettlebed, Oxon RG9 5AH, England (fax +44-1491-641922)

This should have a clear short title, but should not bear anything to identify the author(s).

On a separate sheet, please include the following information:
NAME : Names of the author(s)
TITLE: Title of the paper
EMAIL: Email address of the first author, if any
ADDR: Postal address of the first author
TEL: Telephone number of the first author, if any
FAX: Fax number of the first author, if any

The name of the first author will be used in all correspondence.

If possible, please also send an e-mail to Christopher Moseley at informing him of the hard copy submission. This is in case the hard copy does not reach its destination. This e-mail should contain the information specified in the section below.

Important Dates
Abstract submission deadline April 15
Committee's decision May 14
Authors submit camera-ready text July 23
Conference Sept 21-24



Minutes of Executive Committee Meeting on 17th March, 2001, 2 Wanbourne Lane, Nettlebed, UK

Nicholas Ostler (President)
Chris Moseley (Group Liaison Officer)
Nigel Birch (Secretary)

1. Fundraising
Two letters had been received relating to fund raising. Firstly, the Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (CILT) had sent a circular publicising the European year of Languages 2001 and the Languages Challenge, a way to encourage people to learn a language by setting themselves a goal and getting sponsorship for their favourite charity.

Nigel would reply to CILT, and advance our collaboration with them. Nigel would also write a paragraph summarising this for Ogmios.

Secondly, a letter had been received from Derek Rogers who runs a small software company in Glasgow. As part of the Year Of Languages he was organising a fund-raising event for the autumn where readers would read out Aesop's fable of "The North Wind and the Sun" from phonetic translations, the challenge being that a native speaker would be able to understand the story at first hearing. Proceeds from this event would be donated to the Foundation. He had written to us both to inform us of the event, and to ask for ideas for sponsorship. Nigel would write back with his experiences of trying to raise sponsorship for the recent concert. He would also put him in touch with Alasdair.

2. Ogmios
Although Karen Johnson-Weiner had agreed to take on the editing of this a change in her circumstances at work made this impossible for her for a while. Nick agreed to get out this new issue in the absence of an editor.

It was noted that Ogmios was very important for the Foundation as it kept the members in regular contact, involving them in the activities. Whoever took this on had to be aware of what was involved and be prepared to do it. Louanna Furbee had expressed her willingness to take this on and Nick agreed to contact her to discuss what was required and to see if she was willing to do it.

3. Charleston Conference Aftermath
The individuals owed money from the event had now been paid and only three creditors remained: the University, the Holiday Inn and Nick. Blair wanted to pay the Holiday Inn next and wanted to commit us to paying a regular amount to do this. It was decided to delay this until this year's subscriptions had been received, which should be by the end of May. Nick would discuss this with Blair.

4. Membership
New rates and new classes of membership had been proposed ranging from full, which would include paper copies of Ogmios and the conference proceedings, to subsidised membership, which would be free.

The changes and increases were agreed. In informing members, the letter needed to justify the increase. It should point out the dual role of the Foundation: producing publications and to keep the members informed and involved, and generating funds to support research. This latter was our prime purpose and, currently, the membership was the main source of income. Rising costs of production and distribution were reducing the sums available for grants. Nick would talk to Patrick about the content of the letter and issuing the notification to members.

In the UK, two bank accounts were currently being operated because of the difficulty in the main bank of processing credit card slips. This was giving Chris a lot of extra work as the banks were in different towns. Chris agreed to explore the pros and cons of rationalising this by perhaps transferring the account to a single bank. He would also explore the setting-up of standing orders, etc and ways claiming back tax from individual subscriptions.

5. The Foundation as Publisher
There was a need to obtain active promotion of our publications in to the book trade. This would require getting a publisher's agent and a distributor. Chris would investigate this.

6. The Agadir Conference
Chris agreed to draft the technical scope for the call for proposals.

Nick would circulate the Call and set a deadline.

There was also a need to reconsider the date of the conference as the present period conflicted with the European Day of Languages which was Wednesday, 26 September. This event offered the Foundation an opportunity for publicity and the clash with the conference should be avoided.

There was also a need to discuss with Hassan when money was needed. Nick would discuss these issues with him.

The European Year Of Languages offered the opportunity to raise the profile of the Foundation and Nigel agreed to think about some kind of "rabble-rousing" event - a seminar with major speakers, for example. He agreed to contact Alasdair and involve him in the planning.

If the conference were not to go ahead then we would need to consider some alternative method of holding the AGM.

Report on FEL Grant: Documenting the lexicon of Tuahka (Nicaragua).

The Principal Researcher was Prof. Elena Benedicto, of Purdue University. The work was carried out in the period Aug.-Dec. 1999 (not during the period Feb-June 1999, owing to problems with the transfer of money from England to Nicaragua).

The project aimed to document the lexicon of Tuahka, a variant of Mayangna, spoken in Bluefields, Nicaragua. It was carried out over 5 months. Seven indigenous research assistants were selected for the Tuahka Linguistic Team (TUYUWAYABA). Their names are: Alberto Dolores, Modesta Dolores, Gloria Fenly, Neddy Ismael, José de la Cruz Meléndez, Stringham Montiel and Cristina Poveda. The funds were used to pay a monthly supplement of $18.00 to each of the research assistants.

Two workshops took place: one in the beginning to train the research assistants and organize the work, and one at the end of the period to collect and evaluate the work. These workshops were funded by URACCAN University, the local counterpart.

The previous 1996 vocabulary was revised. A collection of 24 folktales were collected, as well as several pieces of Tuahka oral history. Lexical items for the dictionary were collected from all those sources, as well as from the school materials already produced.

A total of 854 lexical cards (with full grammatical information) were prepared as entries for the dictionary in the period specified above. During the period January-June 2000, those lexical entries were introduced in the computer by Linguistics students at Purdue University (with funds from the Lingusitcs Program, or as part of an Honors course). The result was printed out and was partially revised during a workshop in July 2000. The process of revision proved to be slow and tedious; the members of TUYUWABA did not have relief from their usual duties, so little time could be devoted each day for the revisions. A Purdue student assisted in computers tasks during the workshop. Unfortunately, the revisions could not be finished. In talks with URACCAN University, it was decided that during my next visit in December 2000, a block of one week will be provided for work exclusively on the revisions for the dictionary. URACCAN will provide funds for that workshop and to publish the dictionary.

Although not finished for publication, the funds provided by FEL were instrumental and decisive in allowing the collection of the bulk of the work for the dictionary. Hopefully, the dictionary will be finished and published as a collective team effort by FEL, local institutions (URACCAN), the Linguistics Program and Linguistics students at Purdue and, above all, the members of the TUYUWAYABA research team.

The amount received was of US $ 635.23. Aside from US$15.00 in bank transfer expenses, and $5.23 on office supplies, the sum paid for 35 researcher months at $18 per mensem. West Lafayette, November 2000.