REU Site: Building Digital Tools to Support Endangered Languages and Preserve Environmental Knowledge in Mexico, Micronesia, and Navajo Nation
Donor: National Science Foundation
Project Directors: K. David Harrison, Professor, Linguistics; Theodore Fernald, Professor, Linguistics; Brook Lillehaugen, Assistant Professor, Linguistics, Haverford College
Award Date: 12/5/2014
This REU site recruits a diverse group of twelve undergraduate students of Linguistics. The project begins with a two-week intensive, hands-on training session on current best practice for recording languages (or areas of grammar within languages) that have not yet been adequately documented. Students learn directly from professional linguists and indigenous language experts how endangered languages are being modernized, digitized, and expanded into new technological domains. In weeks three and four, students participate in a two-week field practicum. Working in teams led by indigenous language experts, students help record basic and specialized lexica, folk taxonomies, toponyms, and ethno-biological nomenclature. They explore and help document the rich knowledge base in each language that uniquely encodes the natural environment (flora, fauna, weather, geography, etc.). They also learn current best practices in sustaining indigenous languages and supporting global language diversity. The program concludes with a one-week workshop, where students reflect on their collaborative fieldwork and prepare presentations for their respective home institutions. This REU Site project is co-funded by the Documenting Endangered Languages program and also by the International Science and Engineering Program.
Project Period: 5/1/2015 - 4/30/2018