Collaborating on language documentation and conservation

(March 2013) Language researchers and documentation specialists from around the world are participating in the 3rd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC). The event is taking place 28 February-3 March on the Campus of the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. The theme of this year’s conference is “Sharing Worlds of Knowledge.” According to conference organizers, this theme “highlight[s] the interdisciplinary nature of language documentation and the need to share methods for documenting the many aspects of human knowledge that language encodes.”


Presentations by SIL staff include:

  • Dr. J. Albert Bickford: "Rating the vitality of sign languages" (co-authored with Dr. M. Paul Lewis and Dr. Gary Simons)
  • John Hatton: “SayMore: Language documentation productivity”
  • Jeremy Nordmoe (Director of SIL Language and Culture Archives): "Endangered resources: A program for collection and preservation"
  • Jeremy Nordmoe and Hugh Paterson III: "Challenges of implementing a tool to extract metadata from linguists: The use case of RAMP" (poster)
  • Dr. Gary Simons (SIL Chief Research Officer): "A global profile of language development versus language endangerment" (co-authored with Dr. M. Paul Lewis)
  • Kathleen Sackett and Dr. Linda Humnick: “Evaluating community-based language development activities with the Sustainable Use Model—A case study” (poster)


In addition to paper and poster presentations, the conference features a series of Master Class workshops on documentation in language and culture-related disciplines as diverse as ethnomusicology, kinship systems and ethnobotany. Participants also have the opportunity to observe an active language revitalization project through the Hilo Field Study on Hawaiian Language Revitalization, a two-day event that will immediately follow ICLDC.

SIL values the documentation of endangered languages and cultural information for the long-term benefit of communities and as a means of preserving knowledge for academic purposes. Language is fundamental to human identity and to a sense of community and personal value. Documentation provides an opportunity for community members to participate in preserving heritage data for future generations. SIL is committed to serving language communities worldwide as they build capacity for preservation of their languages as well as efforts for language development—ensuring that a community’s language continues to serve its changing social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual needs and goals.

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