ABS130913 copy2

Department of Linguistics Seminar Series

The coming seminar:

ABS130913 copy

Language documentation in the 21st century

Date: 13 September, 2013 (Friday)
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Venue: Run Run Shaw Tower (Centennial Campus) Room 4.04
Speaker: Prof. Peter Austin, SOAS and HKU

In the last decade of the 20th century a new sub-field of linguistics
emerged that has come to be known as ‘language documentation’
or ‘documentary linguistics’ (Himmelmann 1998, 2002, 2006, Lehmann
2001, Austin 2010, Grenoble 2010, Woodbury 2003, 2011a). In this
paper we explore how it was defined in the seminal work of
Himmelmann (1998) and others, including what were presented as
significant characteristics that distinguished language documentation
from language description. A focus on best practices, tools and
models for documentary corpora appeared in the following years,
along with more critical discussions of the goals and methods of
language documentation. The paper examines some current
developments, including new approaches to archiving (Nathan 2010,
Woodbury 2011b), and suggests that in the 21st century language
documentation needs to adopt a more socially engaged approach to
linguistic research.

Austin, P. K. 2010. Current issues in language documentation. In Peter
K. Austin (ed. Language Documentation and Description, 7:12-33.
London: SOAS.

Grenoble, L. 2010. Language documentation and field linguistics: The
state of the field. In L. A. Grenoble and N. Louanna Furbee (eds.)
Language Documentation: Practice and values, 289-309. Amsterdam:
John Benjamins.

Himmelmann, N. P. 1998. Documentary and descriptive linguistics,
Linguistics 36: 161-195.

Himmelmann, N. P. 2002. Documentary and descriptive linguistics. In
O. Sakiyama and F. Endo (eds.) Lectures on Endangered Languages,
Volume 5, 37-83. Kyoto: Endangered Languages of the Pacific Rim.

Himmelmann, N. P. 2006. Language documentation: What is it and
what is it good for? In J. Gippert, N. P. Himmelmann and U. Mosel
(eds.) Essentials of Language Documentation (Trends in Linguistics.
Studies and Monographs, 178), 1-30. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Nathan, D. 2010. Archives 2.0 for endangered languages: from disk
space to MySpace. International Journal of Humanities and Arts
Computing, 4 (1-2), 111-124.

Woodbury, A C. 2011a. Language documentation. In P. K. Austin and
J. Sallabank (eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Endangered
Languages, 159-186. Cambridge: CUP.

Woodbury, A. C. 2011b. Archives and audiences: toward making
endangered language documentations people can read, use,
understand, and admire. In D. Nathan (ed.) Proceedings of Workshop
on Language Documentation and Archiving, 11-20. London: SOAS.