Foundation for Endangered Languages
8. Places to Go - On the Net and in the World
Kolyma Yukaghir: Online Documentation
21 Nov 2004: Irina Nikolaeva irina_a_nikolaeva:at:yahoo.co
This website is a multimedia collection of linguistic and cultural information on Kolyma Yukaghir, a highly endangered language spoken by about forty people in North-East Siberia. You will find here 52 original Yukaghir texts, both as audio recordings and in transcribed, translated and analysed form. The texts were recorded in 1980s and 1990s in the Yukaghir settlements Nelemnoe and Zyrianka. There are also dictionaries and pictures. Much use is made of cross-references and links between various kinds of data: textual, grammatical, lexicographic, auditory, and visual. The documentation was compiled in 2004 by Irina Nikolaeva, with the online implementation by Thomas Mayer.
Lakota Language Consortium "The one road to language revitalization."
We are a nonprofit organization that develops Lakota language revitalization materials for schools in the Dakotas. Our goal is to help train a new generation of speakers through language curricula in the schools and to promote Lakota language in the communities.
(Particularly striking is the dynamic map which shows the spreading annihilation of North American languages from the 17th century up to the present. As blood red uniformity spreads across the previous continental profusion of individual languages, the blood of the viewer runs cold. See:
The WOCAL Website is http://www.wocal.rutgers.edu
We would like to thank Prof Akinbiyi Akinlabi (who organized WOCAL 4) for creating the WOCAL website.
During WOCAL 4 at Rutgers in 2003, a Constitution was approved for the organization. One important objective of WOCAL is “To act as a forum at which scholars in African Linguistics shall meet and exchange ideas and knowledge on African Linguistics and related disciplines”. This objective will be central as we meet for WOCAL 5 at Addis Ababa, the official seat of AU, the African Union.
An organizing committee for WOCAL 5 has been formed under the leadership of Professor Baye Yimam. The chosen theme of WOCAL 5 is “African Languages in the World of Globalisation”. A call for papers has been circulated by the Organizing Committee, which is to be found in the website www.aau.edu.et/linguistics
Unfortunately this site has not been easily accessible to colleagues. Details may appear soon on the WOCAL website.
It is the hope of the Standing Committee of WOCAL that as many of us as possible will participate in the next Congress, particularly those in the African universities, as it will be relatively less costly in terms of air transport. As it was the case in the previous WOCAL gatherings, the Organising Committee has endeavoured to secure some sponsorships for a few participants. But these opportunities, if ever they become available, will be highly limited. It is therefore advisable that we all start early to solicit sponsorship as well as submit the relevant abstracts.
Herman M. Batibo BATIBOHM:at:mopipi.ub.bw President, Standing Committee of WOCAL
Vanishing Voices: the Film
Ironbound Fims is currently producing a TV documentary on endangered languages for PBS (Public Broadcasting System) in the USA. In its own words "Vanishing Voices is America's first look at how languages become endangered, and the awesome task of recording, archiving, and returning them to use." The producer is Seth Kramer, who in 2002 produced America Rebuilds: a Year at Ground Zero, also for PBS.
The film strongly features David Harrison and Greg Anderson's work to document Chulym in Siberia. A number of still pictures, and an animated trailer for the film itself, can be found at:
Languages of Saskatchewan
The Saskatchewan Indian Cultural Centre’s website Our Languages
Courses on Less Commonly Taught Languages
Technology-Enhanced Language Revitalization :at: the University of Arizona
qe’ciyéew’yew’, (thank you)
Phil Cash Cash (Cayuse/Nez Perce)
Hansson Übersetzungen Updated to Include Catalan and Sorbian
The website for Hansson Übersetzungen GmbH (www.hansson.de) has been updated recently and now also contains a short presentation in the following languages:
Catalan, Czech, Hindi, Hungarian, Slovak, Sorbian.
The last is a minority language in Eastern Germany.
Frontier Language Institute Launches Website
The Frontier Language Institute (FLI) has launched its website
The Frontier Language Institute is a training and resource center working to enable the language communities of northern Pakistan to preserve and promote their mother tongues. For more information contact info:at:fli-online.org
Patua of Macao Wikepedia, an online free content encyclopedia collaboratively written by authors from around the globe, now includes an article on Patua or Macaista Chapado, a Creole language based on Portuguese, spoken in Macao on the coast of southern China.
Inuit Language (Inuktitut) with a new home on Net
BBC NEWS http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/technology/3975645.stm
Inuktitut speakers will soon be able to have their say online as the Canadian aboriginal language goes on the web. Browser settings on normal computers have not supported the language to date, but attavik.net has changed that. It provides a content management system that allows native speakers to write, manage documents and offer online payments in the Inuit language. It could prove a vital tool to keep the language alive in one of the most remote communities on earth.
Vital link Inuktitut is spoken by the Inuit people living in Nunavut, northern Canada, which is an area two to three times the size of France, as well as Alaska. An historic agreement signed with the Canadian government in 1999 allowed the communities living there independence to run their land how they chose. In this long-established society, the modern medium of the internet is proving a breath of fresh air. "There are 25 settlements, 30,000 people and no roads. It is a huge area of land and the internet is tailor-made for these groups," said Oliver Zielke, the chief executive of Web Networks, a non-profit organisation based in Canada which provides web services for socially committed groups. Web Networks worked with the Piruvik Centre of Iqualuit, the capital of Nunavut, to develop the system.
"It was a big challenge to give the Inuit and Inuktitut speakers the ability to have web pages published in their native language," said Mr Zielke. "A lot of people have older computers and limited ability to use technology," he added. With high-speed satellite net access planned for the region and the website providing the easy-to-use tools to make publishing easy, that is about to change. "The worldwide web can seem like a foreign place to these people but now they can be players in that world. The internet will eventually be one of the basic tools that the Inuit people use," predicted Mr Zielke.
The technology behind attavik.net can be used for other syllabic languages such as Cree, Oji-cree and Korean. The government of Nunavut is committed to making Inuktitut its working language. "This type of development puts that goal within reach," said Eva Aariak, Languages Commissioner for Nunavut.
Comment by Trond Trosterud: The web-site Mr Zielke talks about is http://attavik.ca/en_index.htmlHere, all Inuktitut sentences are published as *pictures* (as you can see for yourselves if you look at the source code or if you try to copy the Inuktitut text over into another program). The preferred way of publishing text is, as Mr Zielke of course knows, as strings of bytes as the Nunavut government publishes its own Inuktitut-language web pages: http://www.gov.nu.ca/Nunavut/Inuktitut/
If you cannot read the Inuktitut of the latter link, then you have what in the quote above is called a "normal computer", or equivalently, an "older computer". If you, as I, have a more modern computer, and above all, a more modern browser (less than 4-5 years old), with the capability of choosing UTF-8 as "Text Encoding" (and a large enough Unicode font), then you are able to read the www.gov.nu.ca site. If you belong to this latter group, than the attavik.net project is just harmful (text as pictures is not searchable). If you, on the other hand, have an older computer / software, without the possibility of using Unicode (and by all means, many do), then the attavik.net initiative is very important, and very welcome indeed. This is thus not a critique of attavik.net (they do an important job, indeed), but of BBC, who presents this as the future of Inuktitut computing (it is not).
The general lesson to be taught here (in addition to not believing what you read in the media), is that in this transition period, languages need both forward- and backward-looking technology, but that the only way of securing a safe place in the digital world for a language is to store it as Unicode text. Fortunately, the Nunavut government itself is safely placed in the future solution already so that forthcoming generations may access today's digital archives.