Language and Culture Documentation

Language and Culture Documentation specialists preserve language and culture data in support of linguistic vitality, cultural identity, and stewardship of heritage resources.

Language and Culture Documentation Technician

Language and Culture Documentation Technicians collect audio and video recordings of speech acts of various genres, including wordlists spontaneous speech, and planned speech events (e.g. storytelling genres, poetry, speeches, songs, proverbs, etc.), with appropriate metadata. They also collect video recordings and still photos of cultural practices (e.g. dance, art, crafts, etc.). They archive materials, with thorough metadata, in appropriate digital formats in secure, accessible archives. Language and Culture Documentation Technicians work under the supervision of more experienced language development program staff.

Language and Culture Documentation Technicians must be able to…

  • plan a language documentation project
  • obtain appropriate consent agreements for recording, archiving and sharing data
  • use appropriate software to process recorded data
  • make good-quality recordings, video recordings, and still photographs
  • record appropriate metadata
  • manage a large number of data files
  • organize the collected and processed materials for publication and archiving

Language and Culture Documentation Technicians should have at least some post-secondary studies. No previous field experience is required.

They should have satisfactorily completed courses substantially similar to the following SIL standard courses:

  • Articulatory Phonetics
  • Language and Culture Learning
  • Language and Society
  • Language and Culture Documentation

Language and Culture Documentation Specialist

Language and Culture Documentation Specialists assist language communities to document their languages and cultures, in order to meet their language development-related needs. They also advise language development program teams on how to incorporate good documentation practice as a foundational activity and resource in other aspects of language development programs.

Language and Culture Documentation Specialists in SIL should have an MA in linguistics or a related field, as well as practical fieldwork experience relevant to language and culture documentation.