Foundation for Endangered Languages

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2. Development of the Foundation

Minutes of Executive Committee meeting on 3rd November 1997
held at Language & Linguistics Dept, York Univ.

Present: Margaret Allen, John Clews, Christopher Moseley, Nicholas Ostler (chair), Mahendra Verma, Andrew Woodfield

Special Meeting
The four existing committee members (CM,NO,MV,AW) held a special meeting to consider the Chairman's proposal to co-opt two FEL members, Margaret Allen and John Clews, on to the Executive Committee. The proposal to co-opt JC was seconded by MV, and the proposal to co-opt MA was seconded by CM; both proposals were approved unanimously.

Main Business
1. Minutes of last Executive Committee meeting on 7th December 1996 were approved and signed. Minutes of 6th April 1997 General Meeting in Edinburgh, which were approved at the General Meeting in York on 26th July 1997 were duly signed.

2. Matters arising from 7th December 1996 meeting: None

3. Appointment of Hon. Treasurer:
NO proposed that Margaret Allen be appointed to replace MV, who had given notice of his intention to resign after the present meeting. The proposal, seconded by MV, was unanimously approved. MV agreed to prepare necessary hand-over files and also travel claim forms which could be settled at each meeting. MV, although willing to continue as Membership Sec, pointed out advantages of having the Treasurer fill this role as well. MA kindly agreed to take over as new Membership Sec.

AW reminded the cttee that the main tasks of the Hon Treasurer were to look after FEL's finances, maintain an ongoing 'receipts and payments' book and prepare an annual financial report. For the latter it was necessary to fix the beginning and end of FEL's accounting year. The committee agreed that each accounting year should run from 1st January to 31st December. The Foundation's operational year (the period to be covered by the President's annual report) was fixed as June 1st - May 31st, and August 1st was chosen as the baseline subscription renewal date.

4. Financial Matters:
i. Progress on opening a credit card facility: The Co-op Bank had not proved very co-operative in explaining how to arrange this. NO and MA undertook to pursue this and also to find out whether FEL could be exempted from the £4 quarterly charge.
ii. Current financial position: MV distributed copies of a financial statement to 3 Nov 1997. There was currently £1840-05 in the account. Claims for travel expenses and NO's other expenses had not yet been processed.
iii. Annual Financial report: It was resolved that the first annual report would cover the period from FEL's formal inception to 31st December 1997.
iv. Financial report on York conference: Details were included on the current financial statement. The workshop had resulted in a surplus of £207.

5. Membership and renewal of subscriptions:
A list was circulated showing that since July 1997 25 members had renewed and 10 new members had joined. A concerted effort was required to collect more subscriptions. A plan was drawn up to compile an authoritative list of members (as distinct from a mailing list of people interested in language endangerment issues). Executive committee members would send JC their own lists by Nov 10, JC would amalgamate these into a machine-readable complete list by Nov 24, which would be sent to MA, and MA would send out reminders in the first week of December to all non-renewers.

The following procedures were agreed for handling subscriptions:
* JC was appointed Assistant Membership Secretary with special responsibility for keeping up-to-date records in machine-readable form.
* The subscription year to be divided into quarters:
August 1st - October 31st (Autumn), November 1st - January 31st (Winter), February 1st - April 30th
(Spring), May 1st - July 31st (Summer).
* Depending on the date of joining, each member would be recorded on a file for the appropriate quarter and would receive newsletters for 4 full quarters before being sent a renewal notice. This would mean four rounds of renewal notices, one at the end of each quarter.
* The Secretary would be sent the full list of members each time it was updated.
* Those current members whose joining dates were not known and who had not yet renewed would be deemed to qualify as paid-up members until the end of the current quarter (31st January) and would receive the current newsletter. Members who fail to renew by 31st January will be taken off the newsletter mailing list.
* Mailing arrangements for latest Newsletter (now renamed Ogmios): NO to use his list to generate address labels, then send them to MV. MV to distribute copies, with overseas postings at 'printed matter airmail' rate.

6. Assessing grant applications:
CM explained that two candidates (Vydrin and Donohue) had made proper applications supported by referees, and that three others had failed to pursue their initial requests. All members of the committee had considered the application documents prior to the meeting. They were now ready to take a formal decision on whether to award grants.

 

 

VydrinThe committee judged Vydrin’s project to be technically sound and worthy of support. There was discussion about the best way to convey the money to Vydrin. (Action MA, after further inquiries.)

CM reported that he had had no word from the Philological Society about their possible support. (Action CM, keep trying)

Donohue. His project was judged worthy of support. This would supplement the grant he had received from the Endangered Languages Fund (USA).

All grant holders would be required to promise to spend the money in the ways set out in their applications, and to supply FEL with a report at the end of their project. NO would publicize the fact that FEL had awarded these grants. CM was asked to maintain a file on each applicant and on each award granted. There was discussion about issuing an annual call for proposals, but no decision was taken.

7. FEL's website
JC described the service provided by Webstar: they will pay a proportion of the cost of setting up a website for any organisation to which FEL awards a grant (and for FEL itself). NO noted that FEL already had its own free webpage hosted by the University of Bristol. The page needed to be improved and updated, however. AW agreed to add recent copies of the newsletter and any other convertible files that the committee wished to display. Meanwhile NO would send out a request to members for a volunteer to take over the management of the site.

8. Progress report on CM's initiatives
(a) Manx and Cornish. CM had offered to contact organisations that promote minority languages in the British Isles. So far he had made contact with Richard Gendell (Cornish Language Revival Movement), and Roger Sims (Manx National Heritage). The aim at this stage was to make groups aware of FEL_s existence and to explore mutual interests. Since there may already be centres e.g. University Departments that possess lists of Celtic language organisations, it will be useful to investigate this. It was noted that the Welsh Language Centre was being closed, as it had accrued large debts.

(b) Buttonholing new governments. CM had sent a letter to the Congo government. No reply so far, but the letter would appear in the newsletter. CM also distributed a draft of a letter intended for Serbian authorities concerning allegations of suppression of the Albanian language. The committee felt that the letter in its present form needed improving - comments should be sent to CM. NO informed that the lead editorial item in the current Ogmios concerned the Albanian issue: political discrimination within one country against a language spoken by a minority in that country but not necessarily globally endangered (see also item 13 below).

9. Progress report on plans for international conference:
MV reported that Prof. Ken KacKinnon was planning a conference in September 1998 to be hosted by the Celtic Studies Dept of Edinburgh University. It was possible that FEL could play a role as a joint organiser. Alternatively, the option of a 3 day conference in York was still open (though the University was pressing for a decision). JC and others expressed worried about the cost of a large conference; MV replied that it ought to be self-financing. AW took the view that it was too late to think of staging a large affair next summer. He thought that FEL_s main concern should be to mount an attractive small event around the next A.G.M. CM suggested getting archive footage of peoples whose languages were threatened.

NO argued for building on the contact with Edinburgh. It was resolved that a sub-committee consisting of NO, CM, MV would enter into closer discussion with MacKinnon and the Edinburgh organisers.
Decisions about the timing and size of the event should be left to the sub-committee. MV was asked to cancel the York option.

10. Progress on publishing proceedings of York workshop:
The publishers Multilingual Matters and Swets were not interested. Intellect (publishers in the field of computers and language) were considering.

11. World of Language project - discuss FEL's involvement:
Information was included in Ogmios. The project was in its infancy. The director Roger Gibson and the British Council were useful contacts. Discussion deferred until a future meeting.

12. Whether FEL should join British Standards Institution:
JC explained that most British Standards activities concentrated on developing and influencing international standards through ISO (International Organization for Standardization). FEL should consider joining BSI only if this would benefit its aims. ISO 639 (Language Codes) was relevant to FEL; membership would provide information to FEL and enable FEL to influence the shape of standards as well as providing opportunities for publicising FEL. It was agreed that AW should send an exploratory letter to BSI, incorporating text supplied by JC.

13. FEL's views on Language Rights:
Discussion of this big issue of principle was deferred to a general meeting, possibly to feature in the summer conference.

14.AOB: None

15. Date of next meeting: Some time in January or February 1998, to be decided.

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