Language activism

Kennedy Bosire
Jack Buckskin
Phil Cash Cash
Margaret Florey
Susan Penfield

Course days, time, and location:
6/28, 6/29, 6/30, & 7/1
3:30 - 5:15
Willamette, Room 112

Course information:
This workshop will comprise four 1 hour 45 minute sessions in Week 2 (Monday to Thursday). In the framework developed by Florey, Penfield and Tucker, a language activist is a person who focuses energetic action towards preserving and promoting linguistic diversity. Crucially, this definition includes both Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists who bring a diversity of interests, skills, training in linguistics, and involvement in language documentation and revitalization projects. The Language Activism workshop is intended for all those who, by this definition, take themselves to be language activists. We welcome community members, linguists, students in linguistics, educators, and so forth to join us for this lively and inclusive workshop. The workshop will include a wide range of small group exercises based around activism scenarios. Participants will work towards drafting their own plan for community language activism.

The content will reflect the different international experiences of the five instructors. We will examine and critically reflect on the range of skills which language activists may need in order to work in partnership with communities to undertake language documentation and revitalization projects. We recognise a wide range of contexts for language activism which may vary depending on country, language community, institutional affiliation and so forth, We also consider

Issues which are covered include

Course Documents:
Day One Handout  
Day Two Handout  
Day Three Handout  
Day Four Handout  

Instructor(s) Bio:
Kennedy Bosire is an Ekegusii language activist who played a key role in InField 2008 as an instructor in Field Methods for the Ekegusii workshop and a presenter in the Models of Language Documentation and Revitalization workshop. Over six years, in collaboration with community members, experts and members of Ekegusii Encyclopaedia Project (EEP), he has worked towards the construction of a general Ekegusii - English dictionary which will be going into print within a couple of months and has started the construction of an English-Ekegusii dictionary version. He frequently conducts awareness campaigns/talks in learning institutions, community social and religious gatherings, to create awareness on the need to promote, maintain and conserve Ekegusii language which is under heavy pressure from other Kenyan languages. As The EEP Director, he is directing his energy towards the youth in producing learning materials e.g. animated folk tales (DVD). Plans are underway to start vocational youth/children language immersion sessions.

Vincent (Jack) Kanya Buckskin - Vincent, or Jack, as he prefers to be called, is a Kaurna and Narrunga man. Jack began working on Kaurna language projects at the University of Adelaide including the Southern Kaurna Placenames, Kaurna in the Public Arena, Kaurna Learners’ Guide and Kaurna Phonology projects. Jack began teaching Kaurna language at Warriparinga together with Rob Amery through the School of Languages. He now teaches this language program by himself as well as programs at Kaurna Plains School, Le Fevre HS and previously at Adelaide High School. Jack is a leading member of the Kaurna dance group called Kuma Karro ‘One Blood’ and previously danced with Taikurtinna ‘Family’ where he integrates Kaurna language into his performances. When not working and performing Jack likes to research and learn more about his culture and the history of his people. In July 2009 Jack was an invited participant at the ‘Young, Gifted and BLAK’ Aboriginal writers’ workshop in Sydney with Alexis Wright.

Phil Cash Cash is a member of the Nez Perce tribe and is a well known American linguist and Indigenous language activist. He is currently a PhD Candidate in the Joint Program in Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Arizona, Tucson. Phil hosts the "Indigenous Languages and Technology (ILAT)" listserv together with Susan Penfield.

Margaret Florey is Director and consultant linguist with the Resource Network for Linguistic Diversity, a non-profit organization based in Australia and with international outreach. She is actively involved in advocacy and international capacity building activities with members of Indigenous communities, and is currently developing a new model for grassroots training in language documentation and conservation for Australian Aboriginal communities. Margaret has lengthy field experience in Central Maluku, eastern Indonesia, and has published extensively on the endangered languages of the Austronesian region. Margaret's research and training activities have been supported by a wide range of national and international funding agencies, and she has run workshops in grant-writing methods in Australia, the USA (InField 2008), Canada and Indonesia.

Susan Penfield is Program Director of the Documenting Endangered Languages program of the US National Science Foundation. Susan received her Ph.D. in Linguistic Anthropology from the University of Arizona. She has been involved with community language planning for over thirty years. Her special interest is primarily with North American Indigenous languages and she is actively involved in research on language documentation, language revitalization, Indigenous languages and technology and community-based language/linguistic training. Her recent work in language documentation has been with Mohave which has about 30 remaining speakers and Chemehuevi, less than five remaining speakers. This is a collaborative project which engages and trains community members in all aspects of the documentation process, from data collection to database construction. Susan frequently teaches for the American Indian Language Development Institute where she has initiated courses in Indigenous Languages and Technology and more recently in grant writing and language documentation. Her work with language and technology was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and resulted in a book, Technology-enhanced Language Revitalization, with Philip Cash Cash and a listserv titled "Indigenous Languages and Technology (ILAT)" which now has over 200 members world-wide. Susan's passion is for training community members to work on their own heritage languages as she strongly believes that the vitality of endangered languages can only be fully restored through community-based activities. She is currently a consultant for a number of communities where language documentation is forming the basis for strong revitalization activities, notably the Colorado River Indian Tribes in Arizona and the Coushatta community in Louisiana.

                                          Updated July 3, 2010 at 3:02 pm