Digital tools for language revitalization

Ashleigh Surma & Christina L. Truong
Forthcoming May 2023. Chapter in The Languages and Linguistics of Indigenous North America: A Comprehensive Guide, Vol. 1 (The World’s Languages)Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.

In this chapter, we discuss several types of digital tools commonly employed in language revitalization and highlight specific examples of how such tools have been utilized in and adapted to Indigenous North American contexts. We review examples of digital tools for language revitalization in four categories and discuss how each can be leveraged to meet common needs in language revitalization work. These categories are: learning apps, dictionaries and reference materials, geo-mapping and place names, and interactive online spaces, including interactive storytelling and video games/gaming. While these tools are not a panacea for the multifaceted challenges of language revitalization, when employed thoughtfully, digital tools can bring flexibility and dynamism in support of language revitalization.

Language documentation with the Semai community

Bilinski Educational Foundation Grant. Summer 2019.

Semai is an indigenous language of Pennisular Malaysia which remains underdocumented and underdescribed despite its relatively large number of speakers. Alongside community members, recordings of vowel contrasts, wordlists, personal and traditional narratives, and elicitation with and without stimuli were produced. Materials to be archived in Kaipuleohone Language Archive.

Languages of Sulawesi

Bilinski Educational Foundation Grant. Summer 2018.

Many indigenous languages of Sulawesi remain underdocumented and many more are underdescribed. Despite this, the languages of Sulawesi may be key to understanding important linguistic issues in the region, such as the nature and development of Austronesian voice, and the prehistory of Indonesia. In partnership with local organizations and community leaders, recordings were made of native speakers in two language communities of Sulawesi. Materials to be archived in Kaipuleohone Language Archive.

Participatory methods for language documentation and conservation: Building community awareness and engagement

Christina L. Truong and Lilian Garcez
Article published in Language Documentation and ConservationFeb 2012.

This paper describes three participatory methods to engage communities in research, planning, implementation, and evaluation of language programs for their own benefit. In the first activity, participants build a map of language variation, intelligibility, and language attitudes in their community. In the second activity, patterns of bilingualism among demographic subgroups are diagrammed and analyzed by the community. In the third activity, the community creates a diagram of their language use in various domains. Several pilot tests of the methods were conducted with minority language speakers in Malaysia and Indonesia. Using participatory methods creates an opportunity for the community to participate in, shape, and own collaborative initiatives for their language.
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