Foundation for Endangered Languages

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2. Development of the Foundation

Sixth Meeting, on 11th April 1996
Held at 10.30a.m.at the University of Sussex prior to conference of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain.

Present: Mary Altabeu, Roger Blench, Kersti B┐rjars, Bruce Connell, Greville Corbett, Hans GÜtzsche, Peter Kahrel, Alan King, Erwin Koman, Yaron Matras, Christopher Moseley (Liaison Officer), Daniel Nettle (Treasurer), Nicholas Ostler (Chair), Andrew Woodfield (Secretary)

Apologies: Steve May (Press Officer), Clinton Robinson

(1) Copies of the agenda were distributed. The Chairman welcomed new members to the 6th meeting of the group and invited those present to introduce themselves. He explained that the 'Friends of Endangered Languages' was in the process of turning itself into a Company Limited by Guarantee to be called 'Foundation for Endangered Languages'.

(2) Minutes of Previous Meeting (15th Jan 1996):
Approved. No matters arising.

(3) Incorporation of the Foundation : current situation
The Secretary summarised the efforts of the Committee so far. The draft Memorandum and Articles of Association supplied by Allan Wynne-Jones were examined and adapted at the first meeting of the Committee on 5/2/96 in Bristol. The resulting drafts were shown to Ms. Catherine Moreno, a solicitor in the Department of the Secretary of the University of Bristol, who advised that they were unsuitable in various ways. She supplied alternative drafts which had been formulated for a charitable company. These provided the basis for discussion with Ms. Moreno at the second meeting, which was held on 11/3/96 in Bristol. New modifed drafts were the result, and they were given to the Chairman to type on to disk. In mid-March the Charity Commission issued new guidelines for the registration of charities. Of particular relevance were the rules concerning trading acitivities and the rules governing the sponsorship of research. Since the Commission's conditions need to be met in order to ensure that the incorporated Foundation will be eligible to qualify as a charity, a further stage of revision will be needed.

Following this summary, the discussion led to several further points. The Chairman wished to set in motion the process of raising money through membership subscriptions. In the second issue of the Newsletter Iatiku (see item 4 below) there is an invitation to enrol as a 'Friend of Endangered Languages'.

The Secretary undertook to revise the second drafts upon their transfer to disk and to circulate third drafts by email to the Committee. It was agreed to hold another meeting, if required, on 20/5/96.

(4) Iatiku #2
Nick Ostler summarised the contents of the new issue, copies of which would be distributed without charge. Future issues would be for sale. He described ways in which the newsletter might develop. He intended it to appear quarterly, to contain original articles as well as information gleaned from the Internet, and would adopt an open policy concerning the languages in which items might be written. He appealed for short contributions for the next issue, to be sent electronically if possible. The deadline of 30th June would be adhered to. He would value help or advice that members might offer.

In the discussion it was noted that the work of editor was arduous and ought to be remunerated. Prof. Corbett noted the Brazilian appeal on p.6 of Iatiku 2, urging that a letter be written on behalf of the Friends of Endangered Languages. AW agreed to write one using his University's headed notepaper. This led to a recommendation by RB and others that the group should invest in its own headed paper, as embossed headers are more impressive than computer-generated headers. There is a need for a logo. For the time being, word-processor headers will continue to be used.

(5) Local Awareness and Campaigning
Daniel Nettle argued that efforts should be made to produce a press package and to contact radio and TV on the occasion of the launch. He also believed that the group should strive for outside funding in order to produce a film or video. He offered to draw up and circulate a proposal for a documentary on the diversity of the world's languages. The programme would use a mixture of archive material and new footage. Some of the members possess their own footage and tapes. The TV companies possess plenty. It was particularly important that the material should not be dubbed, but should have the original soundtrack plus subtitles.

AW observed that the Foundation, when established, should expect to play several roles in relation to programme-making. Since many of its members will have expertise of value to film-companies, the arrangements for providing expertise could be channelled through FEL, thereby attracting consultancy fees. Secondly, FEL should itself be in a position eventually to provide seedcorn money to film-makers.

(6) Community Language Maintenance Support: Livonian in Latvia
Christopher Moseley briefly described the recent history of this endangered language community. The Association of Livonians (200 members) was now attempting to revive the language by teaching it in schools, organising two choirs, holding festivals of culture and song, sponsoring 'controlled tourism' along special routes, etc. CM read out parts of an appeal for support for the Livonian Linguistics project. This was distinctive in that speakers themselves were proposing concrete measures to maintain their own language. For very modest sums the project would be able to act on four fronts: (i) documentation and compilation of new dictionary, (ii) database of recordings of elderly speakers, (iii) writing a program for handling the database, technical provision for compiling the dictionary, (iv) scientific cooperation with overseas linguists who would review the dictionary. In future it was hoped that stipends for students to study Livonian could be provided.

There was a discussion about the FEL's present and future attitude to this and other similar appeals. It was generally felt that the project offered worthwhile results for a minimal cost (#500), though RB thought that in the case of Livonian (for which a dictionary exists) teaching materials were needed more urgently than further documentation. DN raised two questions: (i) Do we need a general mechanism for selecting bids of this sort? Norms for granting funds need to be formulated. (ii) Could FEL act as a clearing house of methods of helping such groups, e.g. organising teaching materials, finding language tutors?

GC suggested that CM might submit a fast-track application to the ESRC , linked to a suitable Linguistics Dept (such as Reading University's). Another immediate source of funds might be the Philological Society.

(7) Proposal for a Conference on Diversity
The European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages has received some support from the EC in its bid to run a conference on the concept of linguistic and cultural diversity. What is needed is a detailed proposal, which Allan Wynne Jones (President of EBLUL) would like to see coming from an team that includes an English University. Members were invited to explore this possibility.

(8) Any Other Business. None.

(9) Next Meeting Thursday 4th July, 2p.m. at University College London.

AW 29/4/96

First Annual General Meeting
held on Thursday 4th July 1996 Daryl Forde Laboratory, University College London.

Present: Robert Hedinger, Christopher Moseley, Daniel Nettle, Nicholas Ostler, Jean Ure, Mahendra Verma, Andrew Woodfield.

Apologies were received from Bruce Connell, Greville Corbett, James Higginbotham, Peter Kahrel, Steve May, Bob Robins, Clinton Robinson.

1. The members present voted that AW should chair the meeting.

2. Three officers of the Executive Committee summarised the steps taken in the past year.

(i) General report (NO): Six duly minuted meetings have been held which attracted linguists and other interested persons from many regions of the UK. The first was on 26th Jan 95 at the Department of Trade and Industry in London; the second was at Bristol University Arts Faculty Graduate Centre on 20th April 95, the eve of the conference on 'The Conservation of Endangered Languages'. These were informal gatherings aimed mainly at collecting information about the scale of the problem and the efforts of various bodies to address it. At the third meeting held at the DTI on 16th June 95, a committee was formed consisting of Nicholas Ostler (chair), Allan Wynne Jones (secretary) Daniel Nettle (treasurer), Stephen May (press officer), and Chris Moseley (liaison officer). The fourth meeting was hosted by the Summer Institute of Linguistics at High Wycombe on 4th October 95. The main business was to revise the draft manifesto prepared by NO. At the fifth meeting held at the DTI on 15th January 96, Allan Wynne Jones announced that he would be resigning as secretary owing to his appointment as President of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages. Andrew Woodfield was elected to replace him. A procedure was approved for steering the organisation towards incorporation as a Company Limited by Guarantee. A subcommittee was appointed to take charge of this. NO was empowered to open a temporary bank account in the name 'Friends of Endangered Languages' prior to the expected incorporation. At the sixth meeting held just before the annual conference of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain at the University of Sussex on 11th April 96, AW summarised the efforts of the incorporation subcommittee. NO announced that invitations to subscribe were being advertised in the newsletter (see below) and on the Internet.

The subcommittee, over its four meetings, found it necessary to modify the initial plan to set up a Company Limited by Guarantee. Two sets of draft Memoranda and Articles of Association were drawn up. Helpful advice was received from a Bristol University lawyer. Detailed consideration was given to the pros and cons of taking the 'Company' route. It was decided finally that FEL should start out as an Unincorporated Association governed by a Constitution. The procedure for formally achieving this status was agreed at the last meeting of the subcommittee held on 23rd May 96.

Two issues of the newsletter Iatiku have been produced. Iatiku #1, and Iatiku #2 which contained an appeal for subscribers, were distributed free of charge. Iatiku #3 would be appearing at the end of July 96. It would be free to members and sold to non-members.

(ii) Financial report (DN): In April 96 An account in the name 'Friends of Endangered Languages'was opened with the Co-operative Bank, the signatories being Nicholas Ostler and Daniel Nettle. As at 4th July 96 cheques from subscriptions totalling #962 have been paid into this account. No money has been spent. The organisation has acquired nearly 50 subscribing members, half of whom are resident outside the UK. New subscriptions are coming in every week.

 

 

(iii) Plans for publicity and fund-raising (NO): No definite plans to publicise FEL have been made apart from the newsletter Iatiku. Its existence is widely known amongst academic linguists and linguistic anthropologists through the Internet.

Potential sources of core-funding include corporate sponsors (Guggenheim Foundation, Toyota, etc), international organisations such as UNESCO and the EC, and wealthy individuals. Other possible methods of fund-raising include public appeals and merchandising. There were no plans to raise funds by these latter means. Subscriptions are currently the sole source of income.

Following this report there was a short discussion. MV suggested that a publicity flyer be produced. It could be inserted into materials distributed by publishers (e.g. Multilingual Matters) and given out at conferences (e.g. at the British Association of Applied Linguistics). MV pointed out that FEL, which has many international members, might qualify for organisational help from UNESCO.

(iv) Plans for action in support of the objects of FEL (CM): Two requests for moderate financial assistance have already been received, one from a organisation of speakers of Livonian in Latvia, the other from Professor Ken Hale (MIT) for his programme on the Twahka language-community in Nicaragua. Since one of the main objects of FEL is to give grant-aid to small-scale projects like these, mechanisms must be put in place to process applications. CM presented a draft of a standard 'Application for financial support from FEL' which itemized the sorts of information that FEL would need. In discussion it was pointed out that the form was designed for applications submitted by linguists, but was less suited to applications lodged by groups of native speakers. FEL should consider compiling a guide for the various categories of potential applicants. It should include applicants seeking to provide archives of languages that were already extinct. MV drew attention to the role of the National Congress on Language and Education (NCLE) as a facilitator of research proposals. NLCE confers its imprimatur upon selected projects, provides venues for meetings and gives expert advice.

CM also supplied a draft 'Appeal for financial support' for use by FEL in its efforts to obtain funds from other bodies. He emphasised that both documents need polishing.

3. Adoption of Constitution (AW): The Charity Commission provides a model Constitution for charitable associations. After the subcommittee's decision of 23rd May, AW wrote a draft constitution for FEL based on this model and tailored to FEL's particular case. The draft was circulated amongst the committee and a few amendments were made. The final draft was then copied and sent to all subscribers in early June, together with a covering letter and an invitation to attend the General Meeting. The letter requested members to notify the Secretary by 20th June if they wished to propose any amendments to the document. No amendments were lodged, and it was therefore assumed that members were satisfied with the proposed Constitution. AW now proposed that this Constitution be formally adopted.

This proposal was approved by the unanimous vote of those present. The top copy of the document was signed by NO, AW, CM and DN in their capacity as officers of the original Executive Committee.

The Chairman declared the Foundation for Endangered Languages to be formally established as an Unincorporated Association governed by Constitution. He explained the main duties of the officers and the procedures to which FEL is committed.

4. Appointment of President (AW): Under Clause D (xix), the Constitution provides for a President, a Vice-President and Patrons. AW proposed that Nicholas Ostler, as the founder and prime mover, be appointed as first President. This was approved unanimously. AW encouraged members to suggest names of possible Patrons. A Patron should be an illustrious person whose reputation lends honour to FEL.

5. Election of Executive Committee for 1996-7.
All members were sent a letter dated 10th June asking for nominations. Up to seven positions are to be filled. The nominations received were as follows. For Honorary Officers
Chairman: Nicholas Ostler
Hon. Treasurer: Daniel Nettle
Hon. Secretary: Andrew Woodfield
For Members
Christopher Moseley
Mahendra Verma

There being no other candidates, the Chair declared each of the above duly elected.

6. Next Meeting: It was provisionally agreed that the next general meeting of FEL would be on Saturday 7th December at 2p.m., Batheaston Villa, 172 Bailbrook Lane, Bath.

AW 12/7/96

Meeting of the Executive Committee
held on Thursday 4th July 1996 in the Senior Common Room, University College London.

Present: Christopher Moseley, Daniel Nettle (Treasurer), Nicholas Ostler (Chair), Mahendra Verma, Andrew Woodfield (Secretary).

1. Minutes of last meeting (11th April at the University of Sussex) were approved. Henceforth, separate minutes of the Executive Committee meetings will be kept in addition to minutes of General Meetings.

2.Matters arising
Correspondence with Brazilian Government. Replies from FUNAI to NO's letter and AW's letter were read out. The response from FUNAI's Head of Cabinet encourages the study of the two newly discovered languages as soon as the indigenous groups are settled in a new area. AW is to pursue this further with Brazilian linguists and Museu Emilio Goeldi.

3. Registering as a Charity
Following the adoption of its Constitution, FEL is in a position to apply for charitable status. AW undertook to expedite the registration process as promptly as possible and to inform the committee of developments.

3a. Membership Items
(i) AW pointed out the urgent need to find an acting Treasurer to fill in for DN when he goes abroad (from January 1997). If no suitable person from amongst the membership can be found, it will be advisable or necessary to appoint a professional accountant, to ensure that the first year's financial report due in June 1997 gets correctly prepared. The job of dealing with members' subscriptions might be separated from that of Hon Treasurer. This matter should be considered at the next meeting.
(Action: ALL)

(ii) The Constitution allows for up to two co-opted members on the Executive Committee. Since the Committee has five elected members rather than the maximum seven, it seems desirable to strengthen it. However, no decision was taken on co-opting.
(iii) The idea of appointing regional representatives was discussed. Several overseas contacts were disposed to promote the cause of FEL in their respective countries. These included Karl Teeter (USA), Marie Rhydwen (Australia), Jessica Payeras (Canada), Peter Martin (Brunei). (Action: NO to make arrangements, AW to approach Prof. Aryon Dall'Igna Rodrigues regarding Brazil). It was suggested that representatives' names be announced in Iatiku next to an advertisement for volunteers from other regions. The representatives would be supplied with publicity materials, membership application forms etc. It is important to recruit linguists who work with minority languages.

4. Financial arrangements, stationery, logo.
(i) A new bank account in the name 'Foundation for Endangered Languages' must be opened. DN to investigate whether any other banks offer better terms than the Co-operative Bank, particularly in relation to a facility for subscriptions to be paid by credit card. FEL's banking address can continue to be the Department of Philosophy, University of Bristol, if this is deemed most convenient.
(ii) A new application form will be printed in the next issue of Iatiku, and copies will be printed for distribution at conferences etc. (Action NO) (iii) It was decided that the printing of FEL stationery could wait until after registration as a charity, since the heading would need to include the charity registration number. A call for suggestions for a logo will be made over the Internet. The Foundation's official address will be Batheaston Villa, 172 Bailbrook Lane, Bath BA1 7AA.
(iv) AW proposed that claims for the payment of necessary expenses incurred by officers in the work of establishing the Foundation, and the expenses of producing Iatiku, should now be accepted by the Treasurer. It was agreed that travel expenses by committee members be limited to train fares only, and that no meetings prior to the present meeting were eligible. DN requested that all claims be accompanied by proofs of expenditure.

5. Web-page. AW's student Dan Brickley, who is experienced in these matters, has offered to help FEL set up its own web-pages. Assuming that theUniversity agrees, the address will located on the Bristol University site and linked to the home-page of the Centre for Theories of Language and Learning. Dan Brickley's offer was accepted with thanks (Action AW). Dan Brickley may contact NO for a list of desirable links. The page will be advertised in Iatiku.

6. Lost Languages Day. NO agreed to take over from Steve May the task of liaising with the organiser of this project (Luisa Maffi, Inaugural President of Terralingua).

7. Applying for grants. Various academic bodies including the British Academy provide grants for conferences. It was agreed that FEL should aim to hold an annual conference and that in future the A.G.M. should take place during the conference. Members agreed to bring proposals to the next committee meeting.
It was noted that the EC was currently tendering for projects to evaluate the success of its measures in support of minority languages.

8. Awarding grants. CM's idea of introducing a standard application form was welcomed. It was felt that each application would require a reference from an independent assessor who was familiar with the language-situation in question. It was also necessary to set up a procedure for evaluating the results of projects so as to verify that the money had been properly spent. CM to revise his draft form; suggestions to him by the end of July.

9. Any Other Business
(i) The Dept of Welsh at Cardiff University has aked FEL to assist with their Language Planning Survey. A questionnaire has been received. AW to circulate the questions by email to the committee and to use their responses as a basis for completing the questionnaire. NO to circulate the replies he sent to the Welsh Language Board when they performed a similar exercise.

10. Date of next meeting: Mon 30th September at 2 p.m., 10 Bears Hedge, Iffley, Oxford

AW 12/7/96

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