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ELAR Autumn Recap

What a busy autumn we’re having at ELAR!

We started September with our anual training for ELDP grantees here in London. We had the opportunity to meet a wide range of excellent researchers from all around the world. Some of them had received ELDP grants to carry out fieldwork for their PhDs, while others are already experienced researchers wanting to deepen their knowledge in the latest tools for language documentation.

This time, we incorporated a new model of practical session along our usual lectures on language documentation, audio and video equipment, and metadata creation and management. A few of the grantees volunteered during the training to change roles for one day and become language consultants.

We also tried to spend as much time as possible answering individual questions and helping the grantees apply all this new information to their own projects. Mandana, Sophie, and Vera invested themselves to give the grantees a glimpse of everything we want the archive to become, and we the assistants made an extra effort to provide individualized explanations to everybody.

We wanted to thank all the grantees who spent such an intensive week with us for their honest and kind feedback. We’ll keep on improving our annual trainings for future generations of ELDP grantees. We can’t wait to hear more about your fascinating projects in our blog!

Mandana doing video documentation training at ELDP training

Moving on to our recent outreach events, ELAR was invited by Dr Andrew Prescott from the University of Glasgow to exhibit its work in the Digital Design Weekend at the V&A Museum, as part of the museum’s programme for the London Design Weekend. The theme of this year’s being “Borders”, it was an exceptional chance for us to showcase the work of ELAR and that of the researchers that deposit their data with us. Furthermore, being able to engage the general public in language documentation and the potential that these data has for the speakers of endangered languages was absolutely inspiring. We surprised ourselves with the genuine interest that people from all ages and backgrounds showed on our project.

During the day, we showed the videos produced in collaboration with Chouette Films and showed people how to browse the ELAR catalogue. We also presented the app Sprachklang Memory, developed by Berlin’s Central Library, which got a great deal of attention from the young audience. Finally, we published a short piece as part of the event’s manifesto Bridging Borders.

On the 25th evening, we hosted an informal gathering at the office to introduce ourselves to the new MA students of the Linguistics Department. It was a pleasure to get to know such an energetic bunch over a glass of wine, and we’re waiting to hear more about their future interests and research proposals. Welcome to SOAS!

And last but not least, we celebrated the European Day of Languages with all SOASians on the 26th of September. From 4-9pm, we hosted talks, films, workshops, public engagement stalls, and performances. This occasion, as advertised by the Council of Europe, aims to celebrate the linguistic diversity of Europe, to raise awareness of European minority languages, and to promote language learning and teaching. So far the focus of this day had been on the languages in Europe which are regarded as indigenous to the area. However, centuries of migration and displacement have brought people from all over the world to Europe and with them their languages and their world views. Celebrating this day with us meant celebrating languages of Europe like Sylheti and Somali and many other so-called diasporic languages.

As part of the event, which was framed in the Welcome Week programme for all new SOAS students, we were honoured to host the welcome reception of the newly launched School of Languages, Cultures, and Linguistics. Baroness Valerie Amos, SOAS Director, joined us to celebrate our school and its diversity.

Andrew Harvey, one of our flash talk speakers and community members documenting the Gorwaa language in Tanzania

After a few days of well-deserved rest (and data curation), the ELAR team is now getting ready for a new round of exciting projects. We will be travelling very soon to Portugal, and taking advantage of all the opportunities that the new academic year has to offer.

This season isn’t over yet and neither is ELAR. Stay posted to know more about future events, more project profiles and other news from our grantees. Also, don’t forget that the clock is ticking for the next grant round, applications open October 15th and are due January 15th!

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