Where Do We Need to Go From Here?



VLACH Endangered Language Documentation Training

ELDP Archive Support and Development Officer Vera Ferreira joined with ELDP Grantee Alex Garcia and Chouette Films team Anna & Remi Sowa to train participants on language documentation as part of the Vlach Training, that took place in Vienna on the 30th September until the 5th October 2019. On the ELAR blog this week, we give an overview of all the talks and activities that were given throughout the week-long intensive training!

On Day 1, after an introduction by Dr. Thede Kahl from VLACH, Vera gave a talk on language documentation and its connection to revitalization, followed by a session on data collection techniques. Alex Garcia then gave a talk on techniques and equipment for data collection.

Welcoming session run by Vera Ferreira and Alex Garcia.

On Day 2, the topics of the day were data management and workflows in language documentation. Vera gave a talk on metadata and Alex gave a talk on SayMore. The participants learnt several functionalities of SayMore, such as:

  • project management,
  •  creating metadata,
  • renaming and converting files,
  • extracting audio from video,
  • segmenting, transcribing and translating, and
  • exporting subtitles and add them to the videos later.
At the end of the day they worked with the recordings they have done the day before, to see what they had learned and how they can improve.
Photo taken by Elnur Aliyev.
Vera Ferreira and Alex Garcia help participants with SayMore and metadata creation. Photo taken by Elnur Aliyev.

On Day 3, Anna and Remi Sowa from Chouette Films trained the participants on video recordings, not only on the necessity and importance of video recordings in language documentation but also on the techniques of video collection.

Remi Sowa training participants on video recording. Photo taken by Elnur Aliyev.
The day started with participants doing video recordings based on what they intuitively knew about video, and on their previous video experience. At the end of the day, after Anna’s and Remi’s training, the participants did recordings again, applying what they have learnt.The new recordings were evaluated in Day 4 and it was possible to see a huge improvement and a greater awareness of what to capture and how.
The participants practiced recording in groups. Photo taken by Elnur Aliyev.
Participants also learnt how to create showreels and videos for the community and outreach, based on the recordings they have done at the end of day 3. For that they learnt how to use DaVinci Resolve 16, a free professional tool for video editing.
On day 5, the participants were taught lexicography and dictionary creation with WeSay by Vera and Alex. A brief overview of LexiquePro was also provided.

And finally, the VLACH team gave a day of presentations, showcasing the work they have been doing.

Răzvan Roșu (CEO, Budapest) gave a talk on Documenting Moți dialect in Romania. Photo taken by Elnur Aliyev.

In the post-training questionnaire, participants were asked to write a paragraph about their participation in the workshop. Here are some of their impressions:
“This was one of the most valuable workshops I attended since I started doing documentation. It was really an honor to be part as a student. The trainers were very nice, very friendly and with huge amount of experience training about the topic. I learned more than what I was expecting. This training was a perfect combination that offered me both, theoretical ground combined equally with hands on experience. I am thankful!”
“I learnt a lot. Got to know nice and smart people. We had interesting presenters with great materials.”
“It was a wonderful experience. I learnt in a very professional and organized setting. The equipment and arrangements were up to the mark. VLACH and SOAS, Anna and Remi did great by conducting such a professional event. I congratulate you all.”
“It was great! I now have more systematic knowledge on modern documentation methods. I loved interactions with the instructors, they were very knowledgeable and helpful. Finally, I enjoyed getting to know other researchers from around the world. The organizers have done a great job organizing such a useful and informative workshop in a comfortable and productive environment.”
“I was quite anxious at the beginning of the week as I had never used any software at all to work with my data and my previous field trips have been chaotic and unorganised. I’ve probably learnt more during this week than during my entire master’s degree! It was a great mix between input sessions and hands-on training, never overwhelming and always supportive. I’m really very grateful I got to experience this and would like to thank Alex, Anna, Remi and Vera for sharing their knowledge and the wonderful VLACH team for this opportunity!”
“I arrived in Vienna hoping I would learn about language documentation and how to achieve optimal results. Not only did I learn some of the current best practices to ethically collect, analyse, store and disseminate data but we were also provided with tools and ideas to obtain some excellent material for language revitalisation. Paired with fantastic networking opportunities which enriched both my personal and academic knowledge, this workshop proved to be all I could have asked for. Thank you very much to you all!”
“I loved these week in VLACH. I am very very happy to have been accepted to take part in these workshop. I had very little information regarding the software and techniques that we can use on the field, so this was very very helpful and I won’t forget it. The organizers are amazing people and it make me feel very good to see such a warm team working together to make this possible. I am very impressed of Thede’s way of working, academically and heartwarming at the same time. I loved the Trainers! Vera and Alex are amazing and i was very happy to have meet them and to learn from them. You could see that this work is a passion and commitment for most all of the people attending, and that makes it a different way doing research and working together. I loved meeting other amazing researchers in topics so different as my own and to be able to learn from them. Most of all i am profoundly thankful that i was chosen and i appreciate the work deeply. I would love to be able to give something back, if only with support or any other way. Thank you very very much!”

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