Foundation for Endangered Languages

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4. Appeals, News and Views from Endangered Communities

European News Shorts

Agency for the Friulan Language Launched
Udin 8/6/2004 by Max Mauro
A new weapon of protection for the Friulan language will be soon in place with the birth of the new Agjenzie regjonal lenghe furlaneä (Regional Agency for the Friulan Language), whose statute was approved yesterday by the regional government of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy.

EU Calls for Russian Help to End Language Pogroms in Transdnistria
San Diego 8/5/2004 by James Fife

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Javier Solana, wrote to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week calling for Russian cooperation to help end the attacks on Moldavian speakers in the break-away Transdnistria area of Moldova.

Sorbian Newspaper Threatened by Cutbacks
Brussels 8/4/2004 by Brigitte Alfter

The Sorbian newspaper Serbske Nowine is threatened by cutbacks. The editor fears for the future of the paper. Meanwhile other Sorbian activities will have to save money and bilingual German-Sorbian road signs in one town were destroyed.

Iñaki Uria from the Basque Newspaper Egunkaria Released on Bail
Brussels 8/4/2004 by Davyth Hicks
Iñaki Uria, journalist and manager with the banned Basque language newspaper Egunkaria was finally released on bail on Monday night, reports the Basque newspaper Berria, after being held in jail for nearly two years.

A New Linguistic Climate for the Welsh Language and a £1m Gift
Abergele 8/4/2004 by Huw Morgan
In the week that the Welsh Language Board announced its twelfth annual report - and the last by the present chairman Rhodri Williams, the language received a financial boost when a benefactor left a £1m to help the language in his will. This interest from this money - likely to be around £50,000 a year - is to be spent on furthering the language amongst the young and to help the unique Welsh language cultural gatherings, the eisteddfodau.

You will find the complete text at:

Greetings from the Secretary of the Tribal Media Group

From: "Tribal Media Group"

Aizawl is the State capital city of Mizoram, one of the states of India that border Myanmar. That is why refugees from Myanmar are mostly based here. Tribal Media Group wishes to highlight the abuse committed by the ruling junta in Myanmar and emphasise protection of our rights. In Myanmar there is no charter of rights to protect us, our languages are endangered. A ban has been imposed on our languages being studied as subjects in the school curriculum. We can provide clear evidence of this if you require, as we have documents to prove that the military ordered such prohibitions.

Please help us!

Patrick SP, Secretary, TMG
Aizawl GPO, Aizawl-796001, INDIA
Launch of the Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity

The Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity (RNLD) is a new initiative which aims to network practitioners who are working to record, retrieve and reintroduce endangered languages. The RNLD will focus on language maintenance activities in the region broadly bounded by Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, East Timor and Melanesia. The goal of the Network is to target a comprehensive approach to language maintenance, develop a network between language maintenance practitioners, and support linguistic diversity by maintaining a website of resources, together with occasional symposia and conferences in the region.

The Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity will be launched at the Australian Linguistic Society Annual Conference at the University of Sydney on Wednesday 14 July at 5pm.

For further information, visit our website at

or contact the convenors — Margaret Florey ( and Nick Thieberger (

The Tiéfo Language falls apart in a year's time !
Sun, 13 Jun 2004
Ouattara Ibrahima

The present article is designed to draw attention on the collapse of a language and the desolation of its helpless people who witness this unbearable situation. This language shares the same fate as many minority languages in a state of extinction in the face of the expansion of bigger languages and the silence of language decision-makers. Language being the codification and the vehicle of any culture, its extinction inevitably brings about the loss of the cultural identity of the people and also the reduction of the cultural diversity in the world. Tiéfo i

s a Senufo language spoken in western Burkina Faso. The language is spoken in the region of Comoe Province, east of Toussiana, in Daramandougou Tiéfo. There are ethnic Tiéfo in about 20 villages. Compared to their neighbours, the Tiéfo people have almost lost their language. They all speak Jula with a particular accent. Today the language is only spoken in the isolated village of Daramandougou located under the cliffs south of Bobo and 44 km North East of Banfora in the department of Tiefora in the province of the Comoe. In Nyagafogo we have very few speakers and most of them are old. The Tiéfo dialect of Noumoudara is extinct. Tiéfo speakers can thus be considered to be less than 1000. The language survives in Daramandougou because the village is isolated. What is alarming is the dynamism with which the Jula language is advancing. It has already eaten up one-third of the village of Daramandougou (Sounougou, Sangogo), leaving two thirds (Djinidjan, Masaso, Biton, Bofofoso, Flaso). Young people are always migrating to neighboring towns or countries to make a better living. Today old men (50 to 75 years old) are the ones who understand and speak the language very well. As for the remaining younger people (7 to 40 years old), they understand the language, but use it in a less natural way. According to the Ethnologue the ethnic population is 12,000 to 15,000, but speakers were only 1000 in 1995. The language was supposed to be extinct, but is still spoken in the village of Daramandougou, according to German linguist Kerstin Winkelmann (1998). The people of Daramandougou still maintain their language. What has protected Daramandougou so far is its isolation: in fact, the village is not open to the outside, there is no easy access, no market, no good road. They seem to know that they are the only Tiefo speakers left and do not want to go the way the rest of their ethnic group. Since the Tiéfo language is in such a situation, we have found it necessary to ponder over it, in order to find out strategies to come to its rescue, for its people lament its imminent disappearance. Furthermore, the local government intends to remove (probably next June, but for the time being nothing is definite) the people from the one remaining village where the language is spoken (Daramandougou) and scatter them in the region because a mining business is being developed (there seems to be an important source of gold underneath the village).

The Tiéfo people are generally considered to be the first settlers south of Bobo Dioulasso (economic capital of Burkina Faso), in the departments of Peni, Tiefora and Sideradougou. They live in about twenty villages under the famous cliffs of Banfora (Capital of the province): Noumoudara, Péni, Finlande, Matruku, Daramandougou, Mousobadougou, Derege, Dege-Dege, Samogan, Tien, Kodala, Nyagafon, Lanfiera). Their linguistic neighbours are Bobo (Mande), Toussian (Gur), Cerma (Gur) and Jula (Mande). This peaceful and courageous people has been seriously decimated by wars in the past, which remain a nightmare for them. They have witnessed their linguistic space being steadily reduced to less than one village (Daramandougou), for there are about three speakers of the language in Noumoudara, and twenty-four in Nyagafogo.

Today it is difficult to know the exact number of Tiéfo speakers; but what is sure is that the number of real speakers has been seriously reduced.



If this state of affairs continues, the Tiéfo language will disappear or the language will be in a critical situation; even if it still exists, it will creolise with Jula. Culturally they remain isolated and they have a matrimonial system. But the day this isolation goes, the Tiéfo language will be in danger of total disappearance. This has already begun with the new mining business (which started a year ago). Today, one can find different ethnic groups in the village (Mossi, Dagara, Gouin..)

It is not only a linguistic problem, but also a problem of identity. The loss of their language brings about the loss of their culture and identity, they feel they are neither Tiéfo nor Jula. They feel they can no longer have a secret, even strangers will understand what is said in Jula. Some Tiéfo people express themselves in the following sad words: 'We have been decimated and scattered by war, we have lost our identity and now our language is being destroyed and nobody intends to help us: now we are lost for ever.'

Today, most Tiéfo are ready to attend school to learn their language because for them it is a real shame not to understand one's language, it epitomizes the total failure of their culture. Many a Tiéfo is frustrated because of this situation. A Tiéfo boy confided in me that 'at school I don't want people to know that I am a Tiéfo. If they know they will laugh at me because I don't understand my native language.'

As an individual I am doing what I can but a handful help from any one will be welcome. No help is too small, provided that it contributes.The main goal of this article is an SOS to whom may be concerned in helping to undertake an intensive collection and recording of any data about this really endangered language. I hope that this dream will become a reality sooner rather than later.

My research is planned as follows :

Historical background of the language and its people
Here we shall present the language and its people.

The language research
Phonetics, phonology, grammar and lexical research will be conducted by collecting, tape recording and transcribing words, sentences, stories and songs.

Lexicon data collection (approximately 1000)
With the help of SIL computer software, we plan to develop a lexical database of all words that have been collected, and with the help of native speakers, determine the meanings of each one, including also an illustrative phrase for each, if possible.

Indigenous Languages and Technology: Introduction and request for assistance

Date: Thu, 3 Jun 2004 15:15:02 -0500
From: Language Laboratories and Archives language-labs@UCHICAGO.EDU

Greetings! My name is Barbara Need and I am a manager of the University of Chicago Language Laboratories and Archives (LLA). I have been an interested eavesdropper on this list from some months now, being both computer support and archivist for the Labs. Part of the LLA's collection is nearly 350 hours of recordings of Meso-American languages done in the 1930s and 1950s. Much of this material is on open-reel tapes, which, of course, are deteriorating. Last year the LLA submitted a proposal to the NEH to digitize this material and make it available on-line to researchers and interested members of the communities where the recordings were made. Our proposal was turned down, but we are trying to revise it to submit again. I am hoping that this community can assist me with addressing some of the concerns expressed by the reviewers.

1) One of the concerns expressed was the lack of letters of support from outside the University. If any of you would be willing to write such a letter, please let me know. I can certainly provide you with more information about the collection

2) Another concern related to the fact that we have no field notes (or none that I know of--I have some queries out) accompanying the recordings. one reviewer asked how researchers unfamiliar with the original interviewer make use of "often highly personal" interviews fifty years (or more) after they were done. Our PI will be addressing this from the perspective of a phonologist/phonetician, but if any of you have any suggestions, it would be much appreciated.

Barbara Need
Manager (LLA)
University of Chicago
Language Laboratories and Archives
International Journal Of Bilingual Education And Bilingualism - Special Issue On Indigenous Language Bilingualism: Call For Papers
Guest Editor: Norbert Francis, Northern Arizona University

Manuscripts are being requested for the upcoming special issue of the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism on Indigenous Language Bilingualism. The focus of the special issue will be on research reports from field studies of bilingualism and language learning, aspects of language use and language competence, and research applied to both educational contexts and language development in general involving indigenous language communities and indigenous cultures. Papers should be reports on an actual empirical study, or a theoretical discussion or review of literature that references empirical work in the field. A broad range of theoretical and methodological approaches is to be included, from: educational linguistics, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, anthropological studies of language and education, and work from experimental, controlled-descriptive, and ethnographic approaches. Aspects of language development and language use focused on either the indigenous language or the national language or both, children and/or adults, in school and/or extracurricular-community settings are being solicited.

Authors may, if they wish, send an abstract and introductory section of a proposed paper to the guest editor to receive initial observations regarding suitability for the special issue theme, final acceptance subject to a full review of the completed paper.

Submission Format Papers should be original, previously unpublished research, approximately 6,000 - 7,000 words, in English. Guidelines for authors can be found at Then click: Journals info à International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism à General Guidelines for Authors of Journal Papers.

Interested persons should feel free to send any inquiry related to this project to the guest editor.

Send your submission (preferably as a Word file attached to an email message), prepared for anonymous review, to:
or by post to:
Norbert Francis
College of Education, P.O. Box 5774
Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001, USA

Please indicate a return address and/or email, including institutional affiliation, of the primary author. An electronic version of your paper, if accepted, will be required.

Important Dates Paper submissions: May 1, 2005
Notification of acceptance: Aug 30, 2005
Final versions due: Nov 30, 2005