ARLINGTON, Texas – Some of the world’s leading experts in language research and documentation will gather to discuss Native American languages and indigenous communities at CoLang 2014: Institute on Collaborative Language Research June 16-27 at The University of Texas at Arlington.
The institute is funded by a National Science Foundation grant to Colleen Fitzgerald, professor of linguistics and TESOL, and director of CoLang 2014. Various units of UT Arlington also provided major support.
“For most of my career, I’ve worked to preserve endangered languages and to promote the ethical and responsible training of students and community members in language work,” Fitzgerald said. “To be able to facilitate the collaboration of researchers, language activists, students and others who study indigenous populations and the preservation of Native American languages is an absolute privilege.”
“It’s estimated that more than half of the world’s 6,000 languages are at risk of becoming extinct and one response to the crisis is in building skills and networks with experts in endangered and undocumented languages,” Fitzgerald said.
CoLang 2014 participants are coming from across the U.S., as well as from Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Pakistan. Native American communities to be represented include the Zuñi and Cochiti Pueblos, Chickasaw Nation, the Karuk Tribe, Muscogee Creek Nation, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and Cherokee Nation, Sac and Fox among others.
Beth Wright, dean of the UT Arlington College of Liberal Arts, said hosting the institute demonstrates both the responsibility and the influence that academic institutions have in helping to preserve endangered culture and language.
“The institution is designed to provide training in a wide range of skills in community-centered language documentation and revitalization,” Wright said. “When that happens, cultural outcomes are significantly improved as language is no longer seen as a barrier.”
CoLang 2014 consists of two weeks of intensive workshops on various topics in language documentation and revitalization. They include technology for recording, software for language programs developed in aboriginal communities, lexicon expansion and outreach skills for the promotion of linguistic diversity.
Some participants will stay an additional four weeks for field methods courses. Registration is $750 for two weeks or $2,250 for six weeks. Visit http://tinyurl.com/Register4CoLang to register online.
While CoLang is geared toward instructors and students, many activities are free and open to the public, including:
· Star Wars IV: A New Hope (Navajo), 7 p.m. June 18, Maverick Activities Center Lone Star Auditorium, 500 W. Nedderman Drive. The Navajo Nation worked with film director George Lucas to dub the original Star Wars movie into the Navajo language. The classic sci fi hit will be shown with English subtitles. Sponsored by the Native American Student Association and the Center for Greater Southwestern Studies.
· Revitalizing Language Through Responsible Healthcare: The Wuqu’ Kawoq Model, 1 p.m. June 19, Maverick Activities Center Lone Star Auditorium, 500 W. Nedderman Drive. This public discussion focuses on a collaboration of linguists, doctors, anthropologists and local community activists in Guatemala that led to improved healthcare outcomes and gains in Mayan language and culture. Sponsored by the UT Arlington College of Nursing and the Center for Nursing Research.
Previous hosts of the institute include the University of Kansas (2012), the University of Oregon (2010), and the University of California, Santa Barbara (2008). The University of Alaska will host the event next year. Read more at www.linguisticsociety.org/content/colang-2014.
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution and the second largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UT Arlington as the seventh fastest-growing public research university in 2013. U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Arlington fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more. Follow #UTAdna on Twitter.