U-M Department of Linguistics was represented at the International Conference on Language Documentation & Conservation (ICLDC) Associate Professor Carmel O'Shannessy. The conference was held at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa from March 2-5.
The theme of this year’s conference was 'Vital Voices: Linking language and well-being'. The conference is held every two years, and this year almost 100 languages from 31 countries were represented. Carmel gave a talk entitled: 'Code-switching helps to maintain traditional language use.'
According to their official page, The ComputEL-2 workshop “will focus on the use of computational methods in the study, support, and revitalization of endangered languages. The primary aim of the workshop is to continue narrowing the gap between computational linguists interested in working on methods for endangered languages, field linguists working on documenting these languages, and the language communities who are striving to maintain their languages.”
Code-switching was a major factor in the emergence of the mixed language, Light Warlpiri, and therefore in a partial shift away from speaking Warlpiri, the traditional language, as the speakers' primary language. Now, Light Warlpiri speakers make use of both Light Warlpiri and Warlpiri verbal resources to organize discourse, with a by-product of promoting maintenance of Warlpiri. This paper responds to Simpson's (2015) call for "much more work … to discern the variation of ways of talking which occurs during times of rapid [language] change", by documenting code-switching by multilingual speakers in a community undergoing rapid change. In the 1970-80s adult speakers of Warlpiri in one community code-switched to very young children in a specific pattern that was then conventionalized by the children as a single code (Author 2013). Defining features of Light Warlpiri are re-analyzed verbal structure, derived from English and Kriol, with some innovations, combined with the Warlpiri nominal case-marking system. Light Warlpiri and Warlpiri are differentiated by verbal lexicon and verbal structure. Light Warlpiri speakers code-switch fluidly between between Light Warlpiri and Warlpiri, and they consider the interaction of multiple codes part of their local speech style. In this paper I will present code-switching data, and analyze the motivations for the code-switches using Gumperz' (1982) and Poplack's (1980) discourse organizing factors. I argue that code-switching between Light Warlpiri and Warlpiri for discourse purposes keeps some elements of Warlpiri verbal lexicon and structure accessible to Light Warlpiri speakers, even when not speaking Warlpiri for sustained periods of time. The data are of two types. One set is recordings of elicitation sessions where Light Warlpiri speakers spontaneously created scenarios, or recounted events, to illustrate their use of particular verbs. In the scenarios and recounts, when providing examples of actual or imagined speech, the speakers code-switch between Light Warlpiri and Warlpiri verbal lexicon and structures. The other set, more naturalistic, is recorded interactions of Light Warlpiri speakers telling a story from picture stimulus. The same kinds of discourse patterns are seen in the more, and less, naturalistic types of data, suggesting high data validity. References: Author. (2013). The role of multiple sources in the formation of an innovative auxiliary category in Light Warlpiri, a new Australian mixed language. Language, 89 (2), 328-354. Gumperz, John J. (1982). Discourse strategies. Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press. Poplack, Shana. (1980). Sometimes I'll start a sentence in Spanish y termino en Espanol: toward a typology of code-switching. Linguistics, 18, 581-618. Simpson, Jane. (2015). Language attrition and language change. In Claire Bowern & Bethwyn Evans (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Historical Linguistics (pp. 537-554). London: Routledge.
Jejueo talking dictionary: A collaborative online database for language revitalization
This paper describes the ongoing development of a Jejueo talking dictionary, an online open-access multimedia database. Jejueo is a critically endangered language spoken by 5,000-10,000 people throughout the islands of Jeju Province, South Korea, and in a diasporic enclave in Osaka, Japan. Under contact pressure from Korean, Jejueo is undergoing rapid attrition and fluent speakers of Jejueo are now over 75 years old. As a collaborative team of Jeju community members and outside linguists, we are currently building a web-based talking dictionary of Jejueo along with an application for Android devices. The Jejueo talking dictionary will compile existing video corpora of Jejueo songs, conversational genres and regional mythology into a multimedia database, supplemented by original annotated video recordings of natural language use. Lexemes and definitions will be accompanied by audio files of their pronunciation and occasional photos for items native to Jeju. The Jejueo talking dictionary will serve as a tool for language acquisition in Jejueo immersion programs in schools, as well as a repository for songs, stories and archaic ceremonial speech. The aim of this paper is to discuss how the interests of diverse user communities may be addressed by the methodology, organization and scope of talking dictionaries. In this paper I examine strategies for interdisciplinary crowdsourcing and community apprenticeships to gather extensive data and create a versatile online platform aimed at a wide variety of uses and user groups.