Universitas Mataram lecture
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A lecture given at Mataram University, Lombok, Indonesia on 2nd July 2010

A lecture given at Mataram University, Lombok, Indonesia on 2nd July 2010

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Universitas Mataram lecture Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Language Sciences in the 21 st Century Prof Peter K. Austin Endangered Languages Academic Programme Department of Linguistics, SOAS Universitas Mataram, July 2010
  • 2. Definition
    • ‘ linguistics is the scientific study of human language’
    • Scientific
    • Human
    • Language
  • 3. The standard view
    • Scientific
    • Goal: develop theories of language structure
    • Hypothetico-deductive methodology
    • Empirical – seek data to test theory and analysis
    • Human
    • Language is species-specific to humans and learnt rapidly
    • ‘ Universal grammar’ common to all languages, genetically specified
    • Language
    • focus is competence (I-language, mental representations) versus performance (E-language, behaviour)
    • Universal grammar reveals itself in individual languages, therefore comparative or cross-linguistic research can be limited in scope
  • 4. Disciplinary contrast
    • Core linguistics
    • Phonetics – sounds, production, perception
    • Phonology – sound systems and processes
    • Morphology – word structure
    • Syntax – sentence structure (categories, constituents, relations/functions)
    • Semantics – meaning
    • Hyphenated linguistics
    • Socio-linguistics
    • Psycho-linguistics
    • Anthropological linguistics
    • Historical linguistics
    • Computational linguistics
    • Applied linguistics
  • 5. Another contrast
    • Armchair linguists
    • Focus on theory building and testing, data from introspection and/or published grammars
    • Descriptive linguists
    • Focus on describing languages, data from first-hand fieldwork (the more dangerous the better)
    • Arguments about who are the ‘real linguists’
  • 6. The definition again
    • ‘ linguistics is the scientific study of human language’
    • Scientific
    • Human
    • Language
  • 7. Over the past 10 years linguistics has seen exciting developments in …
    • Scientific
    • New understanding of the role of data in linguistic research
    • Explorations of research methodologies in new and exciting ways
    • Impact of powerful new digital technologies in hardware and software
    • Human
    • Engagement with communities of speakers of languages in new and different ways
    • Taking social and cultural embeddness of humans seriously
    • Language
    • Shift in interest and attention to linguistic diversity and the imminent loss of languages
    • Language as code versus language as practice
  • 8. Linguistic diversity
    • About 7,000 languages are spoken on earth today
    • Very few languages have been properly studied and most of them have never been recorded or written down
    • Around 2,000 languages have writing, most of them very recently, and so 5,000 languages have no written form
    • Language distribution around the world is very skewed
  • 9. Number of languages
  • 10. Language groups
  • 11.
    • Languages are under threat and many of them could disappear before they can be recorded from the last speakers – 96% of world’s population speak just 4% of world’s languages
    • An urgent task is to create a collection of audio-visual records for present and future generations
  • 12. In language sciences
    • Increased significance of language typology – typology that is ‘data-driven’ and typology that is ‘corpus-driven’ and new methods for interacting with typological variables (WALS)
    • Move away from concern with language as a code to increased interest in ways of speaking (socio-cultural dimensions, ethnography of speaking)
  • 13. Data in linguistic research
    • Questioning the role of language data and metadata in linguistic research
    • Language documentation – an approach that emerged in 1996 – places acquisition, curation, preservation and distribution of data and analysis tied to the data as central to linguistic research – transparency and replicability
    • New research methods and training to ensure high quality, enduring data and metadata (including access and usage rights)
  • 14. Theory and methodology
    • Questioning linguists’ (unstated) ideologies about the nature of linguistic research
    • Questioning the ‘competence’ vs. ‘performance’ distinction
    • Questioning the ‘theoretical linguist’ doing real linguistics versus ‘descriptive (hyphenated) linguist’ doing butterfly collecting
    • Questioning introspection and elicitation as methodology – add naturalistic data collection, experimental methods, and reflecting on corpus structure and use
  • 15. Example – corpus structure Elicitations (E) (paradigms, judgements, test results, etc.) Observed communicative events (OCE) (conversation, narratives, etc.) Staged communicative events (SCE) (descriptions of picture and video stimuli, matching games, etc.) Documentary corpus
  • 16. Staged communicative events
    • Picture descriptions
    • Video descriptions
  • 17. Digital technologies - 1
    • New professional quality portable digital recorders, cameras and microphones increases potential for high quality data capture by an order of magnitude
  • 18.
    • For over 100 years, linguists and anthropologists have made recordings of languages
    • using the latest technology
  • 19.
    • Equipment became smaller in the 1970s, but still researchers intruded into people’s lives
  • 20.
    • Today researchers can go to where the languages are spoken and live together with the people, and learn their languages
  • 21.
    • The equipment we use now is digital – small, portable and robust that makes professional quality stereo recordings
  • 22. Digital technologies - 2
    • Application of medical technologies to linguistic research – MRI, ultrasound
    • Software tools for corpus management and data analysis – eg. ELAN, Toolbox – and web as locus for distribution (publication) and collaboration (Web 2.0), eg. Facebook
  • 23. Digital technologies - 3
    • Digital archives – ensuring data portability, preservation, access, replicability, training and skills development
    • New models of archiving are now emerging that have potential to greatly impact on research methods and outcomes
  • 24. OAIS model
    • OAIS archives define three types of ‘packages’
    • ingestion , archive , dissemination :
    Archive Dissemination Ingestion Producers Designated communities afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds
  • 25. A traditional archive
  • 26. Digital storage
  • 27. Our digitial archive at SOAS
  • 28. ‘ Live Archives’ (Nathan & Wittenburg)
    • Users can add, update content; customise outputs
    Archive Dissemination Designated communities Ingestion Producers afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds
  • 29. SOAS archive - architecture
    • Boundary between depositors, users and archive:
      • users add, update content; customise outputs
    Archive Users Producers afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds afd_34 dfa dfadf fds fdafds request give access contribute
  • 30. Community engagement
    • Ethical issues
    • Research on, for, with, by communities
    • Training and skills transfer
    • Mobilisation of data and analyses – multimedia and revitalisation (eg. Gamilaraay talking dictionary)
    • Communicating about our work with a range of audiences
  • 31. Research by speakers
    • B’alam Mateo-Toledo (left) leads a language documentation team at OKMA, Antigua, Guatemala
  • 32.
    • Hilter Panduro Guimac, a linguist and speaker of Iquito spoken in Peru discusses the spelling of Iquito words
  • 33. Training courses
    • Organisations can run training courses to improve the quality of recordings and analysis
    • In 2008-2010, SOAS ran courses for documentation researchers in Japan, and in 2008, 2010 for native-speaker linguists in Ghana
  • 34. Communicating about our work
    • We can help the general public better understand language issues
    • At SOAS we run Endangered Languages Week – displays, discussions, films, debates, showing linguists and speakers at work
  • 35. Exhibitions
  • 36. Mobilisation
    • Well recorded, structured and analysed linguistic data can serve as resources for production of multimedia products for language education and support
    • Multimedia involves teamwork with linguists, educators, designers, IT specialists, with special attention to interface design and functionality
  • 37. Example
    • Gamilaraay (Kamilaroi), northern New South Wales, Australia
    • A team effort: linguist (Peter Austin), computer and multimedia specialist (David Nathan), school teacher-linguist (John Giacon), local community members
    • A language that was almost lost has now been recovered and is being learnt by children
    • A multimedia CD-ROM of stories and songs, lessons, teacher resources have been created from this collaboration
  • 38.  
  • 39. Conclusions
    • It is an exciting time for the language sciences with potentially important new developments emerging or starting to have an impact on the wider field of language studies
    • There are many opportunities to contribute to linguistic theory and practice, and develop new kinds of training and skills development, new ways of publishing and distributing research results, and new relations to speaker communities
  • 40. End
    • Thank you