Back at the end of August and just into the beginning of September, we had our AISL Conference 2012 in commemoration of the 1930’s AISL conference. We have photos from the conference up on the “AISL Conference 2012” page which you can find the link to at the top of this page, just under the banner. We will also have video clips from the conference up shortly.
Fortunately, emergent technologies now enable us to create video recordings, and integrate them with text and other explanatory or analytical material. It is essential to carefully archive language documentary materials, because such materials have irreplaceable value for language communities and for linguists and other researchers. Digital archives allow possibilities never before imagined: catalogues are accessible and searchable from anywhere with internet access, materials are easily deliverable by network or on DVDs, and communities can express sensitivities or restrictions to control access to certain materials. For example, our PISL project is developing an extensive linguistic corpus and multimedia digital collection of lexical signs, grammatical features, and discourse genres. The project brings together sign language linguists and members of American Indian signing communities to make language and the information conveyed more accessible vis-à-vis emergent documentary linguistic technologies and using captions, voice-over, slow motion and careful explanation (encompassing technologies such as iMovie or FinalCut Pro and QuickTime, iMovie, iDVD and ELAN) to make the digital corpus accessible to scholars, community members, and broader audiences.
It is widely recognized in the fields of linguistics and anthropology that one of the most important issues facing humankind today is the rate at which our languages are dying. If the present trend continues, during the 21st century more than half of the world’s 7000 languages could become extinct, and most of these will vanish without being adequately recorded. The Linguistic Society of America (LSA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have recognized the extreme urgency of documenting and describing endangered languages. With 2009 – 2011 support from the NSF’s Linguistics Division (BCS-0853665 and BCS-1027735), Documenting Endangered Languages (DEL) Program, this project aims to: describe the linguistic nature and underpinnings of PISL; bring together sign language linguists and members of the PISL signing community for the purpose of language documentation, description, and to draw attention to this important, yet often times overlooked part of American Indian cultural and linguistic heritage. The project also provided PISL Linguistic Documentation Workshops on the Northern Cheyenne reservation, August 11 – 15, 2010, in collaboration with stakeholders from American Indian communities and tribal colleges.