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Two Project Highlights on Community Collaboration

Today on the ELAR blog, we are sharing two project highlights from collections which have been funded by ELDP. Both of these highlights emphasize community collaboration in language documentation.

From Esteban Diaz Montenegro’s project ‘Documentation and description of Nasa Yuwe, the vernacular language of the Nasa people of the Colombian Andes’ in Colombia:

The Munchique – Los Tigres authorities are concerned with the increasing loss of Nasa Yuwe within the youngest population. Even if most of the children learn Nasa Yuwe, once they start school the use of Spanish becomes omnipresent. This is one of the reasons Munchique authorities are engaged in the increase of Nasa Yuwe use in community schools; one of the most important difficulties they have regarding this task is the lack of appropriate materials for school use in their language. Furthermore, the Munchique – Los Tigres authorities as well as some elders from this community have expressed their disappointment with the fact hat the younger generations don’t know the recent history of their community, especially with regard to their long-lasting land claim struggles.

This project has been done in a close collaboration with the community and some school members; in this regard, most of the people, the contents and the scenarios of our documentation project were chosen whilst thinking about what is needed to help with Nasa Yuwe maintenance at school, but also regarding what is important locally. Consequently, so far we have a corpus of videos on political and culturally relevant topics, depicting respected community members, to be used as school materials and for cultural, historical and political awareness and empowerment within the community.

In addition to the overall documentation, we are creating community and school-friendly resources in order to make the collected data more accessible. These resources include printed materials, as well as DVD’s, including some of the documentation videos and texts with relevant content, all of them chosen in collaboration with the community. -Esteban Diaz Montenegro

 From Yu Li’s project, Documentation of Zauzou, an endangered language in China:

This documentation project has impacted on the Zauzou community members, especially the project participants in several ways.

To begin with, translating and analysing Zauzou recordings have significantly increased the linguistic awareness of Zauzou language consultants. One of the major language consultants reported that she finds it enjoyable to participate in elicitation and consultation sessions, as assisting the PI analysing language data has increased her linguistic knowledge and interests in studying her native language. As a speaker who only has a middle school education background, she has learned basic linguistic concepts such as tone, consonant, vowel, subject, object, and parts of speech. She can also conduct some basic linguistic analyses, involving chunking sentences into different constituents, finding substitutions for words of the same class, using the orthography the PI used in transcription to transcribe some texts, and so on.

Moreover, the documentation activities have alerted many community members to the endangerment of their native language. Many Zauzou native speakers have expressed their willingness to participate this project whenever the PI needs participants and consultants. One speaker voluntarily joined the PI to take video recordings of naturalistic speech and is eager to train on how to use a video recorder. Given proper instruction and demonstration, this speaker now can manage to use the Zoom Q-8 video recorder to record videos. In the past field trip, he has successfully recorded one special event in the community, which has been archived with ELAR. –Yu Li

To learn more about these projects and other projects archived at ELAR, visit the ELAR catalogue, found here.