25 Mar 2011 All day 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)


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk