ENDANGERED ARCHIVES In summer 2005, we reported on the nwo research project Voices from Tundra and Taiga, and published a catalogue of existing recordings of stories, folklore, singing and oral traditions of the peoples of Siberia [BURYKIN ET AL. 2005]. This material was thus made available for further analysis by researchers working in the field of phonetics, linguistics, anthropology, history, ethno-musicology and folklore. The information is also highly important for the development of teaching methods for representatives of the related ethnic groups and for the conservation and revitalisation of their languages and cultures.
At present, many old recordings remain hidden in private archives and places where the quality of preservation is not guaranteed. In a project, which from September 2006 until September 2008 was financially supported by a special Programme on Endangered Languages at the British Library, we made part of these recordings available and added them to the database developed in St. Petersburg.
Our partner in this new project on Endangered Archives has again been the Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. The aim was to re-record the material using updated technology [SCHLLER 2005], and to store them in a safe place together with the metadata, which is obtained from the related secondary data. The storage facility provided by the project could modernise the possible archiving activities in the Russian Federation and bring them to updated technological standards.
The original open reel and cassette tapes were copied onto hard discs. In the total collection of more than 111 hours (218 GB) of digitised sound material, the following languages are represented : Azerbaijani, Balochi, Chagatay, Chatror, Dari (Farsi-Kabuli), Enets, Kati, Kerek, Mendzon, Nenets, Nganasan, Parachi, Pashai, Pashto, Russian, Shugni, Tajik, Udeghe, Vaygali and Wakhi (Vakhan). The data in this digital sound archive provide information about the historical development of these languages and can be used for language description, the study of folklore, and ethnomusicology of many of Russia’s endangered minority languages.
Tjeerd de Graaf In other parts of Russia, similar important collections can be found, not only in established institutions, but in private hands where they often lack sufficient protection, for example the private collections on Nivkh, available in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, in Vladivostok, in London and elsewhere.
For most of these, it can be said that the preservation quality is below standard. Following our long-standing collaboration with scholars from Sakhalin, we plan to create facilities in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk to store sound material related to the aboriginal languages of the island. Most important are the above-mentioned Nivkh collections, but we should also like to add material on Sakhalin Ainu and Uilta. For some of these private collections, the size is approximately known, but in others a preliminary estimation is required. Within the framework of our project and future new projects, we hope to obtain access to these collections, copy them on modern sound carriers, make a catalogue available and publish part of the material together with the related recordings in St. Petersburg.
On Sakhalin and in other parts of Russia, local scholars will be involved in the preparation of these projects with the support of colleagues in St.
Petersburg, Austria, the Netherlands and Japan.
CONCLUSION A joint effort by researchers from Russia and the Netherlands to analyse data from audio archives and at the same time apply modern fieldwork techniques in studying endangered languages such as Nivkh, Nenets and Yukagir, is described above. The results are language descriptions, grammars, dictionaries and edited collections of oral and written literature on and in these languages. In seminars, the use of these learning and teaching materials within the modern facilities of information technology can be passed on to local teachers. Formal language teaching of former mother tongues can be directed to those younger members of the communities who have not learned their native language informally at home. In Russia, special methods for teaching the former mother tongue as a foreign language must be applied. Selected parts of the acoustic databases used for specific projects are available online and provide an opportunity for the exchange of information on these languages with institutions in other parts of the world.
At the local community level and over the past several decades, many people have been working to develop language education programmes, Tjeerd de Graaf usually with extremely limited technical resources. Unlike teachers of major languages of the world, they lack not only formal training in language teaching, now often required by local governments, but also language curricula and, even more crucially, usable basic language descriptions. The Mercator European Research Centre intends to be instrumental in coordinating these activities. It will be important to exchange ideas with similar institutes in other parts of the world. Together we shall be able to develop an effective and viable strategy for sustaining the world’s endangered languages.
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Tjeerd de Graaf Tjeerd de Graaf EVGENY KUZMIN LINGUISTIC POLICIES TO COUNTER LANGUAGES MARGINALIZATION Urbanization and globalisation promote unification of ethnic cultures and strongly reject the vast majority of cultures in the margins. Knowledge, as well as historical and cultural experience of these cultures and their languages are dwindling. A singular culture disappears when its language dies. Also the development of communication technologies brings hope and opportunities. What actions can be taken to stop or even just slow marginalization of languages, enhancing the vitality, the representation and use of endangered languages Who can do it, and especially who has the responsibility Original article in English.
EVGENY KUZMIN is Chairman of the Intergovernmental Council and Russian Committee of the Unesco Information for All Programme. He headed the Department of Libraries of the Russian Ministry of Culture in 1992-2005 and participated in the elaboration of Russia’s national cultural policy and strategies of information society building. He initiated a number of projects on linguistic diversity in cyberspace, including two international conferences.
any nations in the contemporary world enjoy neither statehood nor sovereignty. Their languages are not state languages because Ma majority of countries are multiethnic and multilingual. Even in the best possible scenarios, when governments and dominant ethnic groups are rigorously protective of ethnic and linguistic minorities, most languages are still marginalised to varying extents. They develop or decline in the shadow of the country’s dominant language, which is used in all spheres of influence – political, economic, educational, cultural, and scientific.
Globalisation, migration, and the rapid pace of urbanization have made many ethnic minorities undervalue their native language. Meanwhile, state and international languages garner a wealth of attention and research.
No language develops outside the context of its corresponding ethnos. At the same time, urbanization and globalisation encourage smaller cultures to merge with the majority, and marginalize themselves. The knowledge and historical and cultural experience stored within these cultures gradually vanish, as well as the culture’s/language’s potential. Cultural and linguistic marginalization is thus interrelated and multifaceted process ;
with the death of a language, its unique carrier culture vanishes 1.
These issues are salient nearly every country where two or more languages cohabit. But the situation is not entirely hopeless : the development of Information and Communications Technology (ict) provides some optimism.
1 In the context of this article, the term “culture” is used in the broadest sense to denote the entirety of salient material, intellectual and emotional features of a given community or social group, comprising the arts and literature, as well as lifestyle, the status of human rights, value systems, education, customs, traditions and philosophy.
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