Language Endangerment: Documentation, Pedagogy, and Revitalization

25 March 2011

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge


Dr Mari Jones (Department of French/Peterhouse, University of Cambridge)
Dr Sarah Ogilvie (Department of Linguistics/Lucy Cavendish, University of Cambridge)



The 1st Cambridge International Conference on Language Endangerment will focus on language documentation, pedagogy, and revitalization. It will bring together academics, students, and members of indigenous communities from around the world to discuss current theories, methodologies, and practices of language documentation, pedagogy, revitalization.

Most of the world's languages have diminishing numbers of speakers and are on the brink of falling silent. Currently around the globe, scholars are collaborating with members of indigenous communities to document and describe these endangered languages and cultures. Mindful that their work will be used by future speech communities to learn, teach, and revitalize their languages, scholars face new challenges in the way they gather materials and in the way they present their findings. This conference will discuss current efforts to record, collect, and archive endangered languages in writing, sound, and video that will support future language learners and speakers.

Documentation is of critical and immediate importance, and is often considered one of the main tasks of the field linguist. Future revitalization efforts may succeed or fail on the basis of the quality and range of material gathered, and yet the process may be rapid and dependent on conscious decisions by linguists and language workers who may be analyzing the form of a language for the first time, and codifying it in dictionaries and grammars. Written documentation of course not only aids the process of standardization but also serves important needs and functions within a community in support of language maintenance such as providing the basis for pedagogical materials in schools and helping to create a community's sense of identity.  However, indigenous communities and scholars of endangered languages are beginning to realise that the rapid and often artificial nature of this process can have negative effects - politically, linguistically, and culturally - which feed into issues relating to education and, ultimately, language revitalization.

In addition to the opportunity of sharing experiences with a network of linguists, it is hoped that participants will leave the conference with a new understanding of the topic, innovative ideas for documentation and pedagogy within their own linguistic contexts, and a renewed vigour to implement what they have learnt in their own language situations.


Accommodation for delegates

We are unable to arrange accommodation, however, the following websites may be of help.

NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.



The conveners are grateful for the support of  The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge.


Administrative assistance: Helga Brandt (Conference Programme Manager, CRASSH)


Parallel sessions: 20-minute papers plus 10 minutes each for questions

25 March 2011

9.00 - 9.30


9.30 - 9.45

Welcome and Introduction (CRASSH main room)

9.45 - 10.45

Plenary Session 1

Professor Peter Austin (SOAS, University of London, UK)
Language Revitalization and Pedagogy in eastern Australia 

    10.45 - 11.15

     Coffee break

    Parallel Session 1

    11.15 - 13.15


    Pedagogy (CRASSH seminar room) 

    Arieh Sherris (Academy for Educational Development, Washington), Tachini Pete and Rosie Matt (Snïiiïo Salish immersion school, Arlee, Montana)
    Task-Based Language Teaching Practices That Support Salish Revitalization Efforts

    Tania Ka’ai, John Moorfield and Muiris Ó Laoire (Auckland University of Technology)
    New Technologies and Pedagogy in Language Revitalisation: The Case of Te Reo M?ori

    Hanna Outakosko (Umea)
    Teaching an Endangered Language in Virtual Reality

    Evaristo Ovide (Salamanca)
    Using the Internet and its Associated Technologies to Revitalise Endangered Languages 

    Parallel Session 1

    11.15 - 13.15


    Documentation (Seminar room A, upstairs)

    Michael Riessler (Freiburg) and Elena Karvovskaya (Potsdam)
    Purism in Language Documentation and Description

    Amanda Hamilton (University of Hawaii)
    A Psycholinguistic Assessment of Language Decline in Eastern Indonesia: Evidence from the HALA Project

    Elena Skribnik, Zsófia Kovats, Veronika Bauer (Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich), Ulrike Zeshan, Hasan Dikyuva, Cesar Ernesto Escobedo Delgado (University of Central Lancashire)
    The Relevance of Language Documentation for Language Users – Models and Case Studies from EuroBABEL

    Ioanna Sitaridou (Cambridge)
    Towards a methodology: Syntactic Investigations of an Endangered Language Embedded under an Anthropological Approach

    13.15 - 14.15


    14.15 - 15.15

    Plenary Session 2

    Professor Dr Nikolaus Himmelmann (University of Cologne, Germany)
    On Language Documentation

     15.15 - 15.45

    Coffee break

    Parallel Session 2

    15.45 - 17.45

    Revitalisation (CRASSH seminar room)

    Colette Grinevald and Bénédicte Pivot (Lyon 2)
    About the revitalization of a « treasure language ». An Update on the Rama Language Project of Nicaragua

    Maria Kouneli (Yale), Julien Meyer (Museo Emilio Goeldi) and Andrew Nevins (UCL, London)
    Whistled Languages: A Continuum of Endangerment Situations and Strategies for Revitalisation

    Julia Sallabank (SOAS, London) and Yan Marquis (Guernsey)
    Language Revitalisation in a Small Community

    James Costa (Lyon) and Médéric Gasquet-Cyrus (Provence) 
    Competing Language Revitalisation Movements in Provence: What is Revitalisation Really About

    Parallel Session 2

    15.45 - 17.45

    Documentation (Seminar room A, upstairs)

    John Henderson (University of Western Australia)
    Language Documentation and Community Interests

    David Nathan (SOAS, London) and Meili Fang (Ochanomizu)
    Joining the Docs: Envisioning a Revitalisation-driven Practice for Documentary Linguistics

    Alexandra Lavrillier (Max Planck, Leipzig)
    Linguistic and Cultural Documentation, and Applied Anthropology in Pedagogy among Tungusic Peoples of Siberia: Analysis of two Projects' Methodologies

    Jeffrey Davis (Tennessee)
    Plains Indian Sign Language (PISL) Documentary Linguistic Fieldwork and Digital Archive 

    17.45 - 18.00

    Closing session (CRASSH seminar room)

     18.15 - 19.15

    Wine Reception sponsored by Cambridge University Press to celebrate the launch of "The Cambridge Handbook of Endangered Languages" (edited by Peter Austin and Julia Sallabank) (Lubbock Room, Peterhouse)

    Conference dinner (Upper Hall, Peterhouse)