Language Survey

SIL International has a survey service which operates across the globe in different administrative SIL units. I wonder, if the future of survey is no-longer looking at where indigenous people are living and what language variations they may have, but rather looking at where these people are going. Consider just the migrants from Nigeria according to lucify.com 89,032 Nigerians have immigrated towards Europe in the last 4 years. That is a lot of people. Where do those people come from? what languages do they speak? What linguistic load is being put on European governmental services? What could SIL offer to these governmental agencies? How could various social organizations benefit from SIL's often long standing work in the regions that these immigrants are coming from?

European migration destinations from Nigeria. via lucky.com.

European migration destinations from Nigeria. via lucky.com.

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Some Thoughts on Environmental Print in Minority Langage Contexts

In the Literacy Mega Course at SIL-UND one of the issues students are asked to consider is Environmental Print.

Sharon MacDonald presents Environmental Print as a way to move people from illiteracy (but with a understanding of contextual clues based on experience and iconicity), to literacy using or reinforcing reading lessons with print materials found around them (particularly in advertising and on manufactured goods). In this writing I will apply Sharon’s general idea to three kinds of cases. Continue reading

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The SIL archive and its two sided markets

I have been thinking about the language data marketplace (exchange if one prefers), and the role of archives in a world where minority language speakers are also internet users and digital file consumers. In particular I have been thinking about SIL’s Language and Culture Archive and the economic model called a two sided market. So, SIL as “Partners in Language Development” seems to be well situated for analysis using the two sided market analysis (matching linguist and professionals with language development skills, and persons with language development skills with interested parties in developing their language). On the surface, it seems that the SIL archive would also benefit from being the center of exchange between these same two groups. This is the subject of one of my slides for an upcoming presentation, therefore I sketched out the interactions various SIL staff might have with the archive to see if I could diagram the social interactions around language data in SIL’s two sided market. To my surprise, the two sided nature of access to data in the archive is not supported, thereby blocking a data-centric archiving service. It makes me wonder what the perceived value of the archive really is, and if the perceived value is low, then why bother? What is the return on investment (ROI) for users on either side of the market?

I tried to summarize the relationships between the various clients of the archive in the following image.

Media and relationships among different roles in SIL projects.

Media and relationships among different roles in SIL projects.

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Special ops pretending to be humanitarian aid…

So, missionaries (like those with SIL International) and NGOs have been accused of being affiliated with the CIA beforeCitations 1 and 2 are from Wikipedia article on SIL International.. But the recent announcement that a doctor helped the CIA has some serious implications, what about his Hippocratic oath? Doctors and humanitarian aid workers build trust with people. In some places this trust is hard earned and much unappreciated when someone (or organization) piggy backs on these relationships without consent, as was recently reported in The Atlantic. It would seem that for all the cries for ethics that academics make that this issue should be more in uproar than it currently is. I understand that war is war and that in war trust is just another item to be taken advantage of, but that is what terrorists do. Isn’t the difference between peace keeping and terrorism a matter of ethics?

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Some current challenges in using GIS Information in the SIL International Corporate Knowledge System

Preface

This paper is motivated by an experience in collecting, analyzing, and then redeploying (sharing while making relevant to other corporate SIL functions) corporate intellectual assets. These assets are relevant to both products SIL products and services and corporate processes. This paper attempts to document some of the current challenges presented to the SIL staff person as well as present some items for consideration in overcoming these challenges.
Continue reading

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The Job

Today several people are getting together to have a meeting about my job(s)… So I thought I would post a few diagrams to try and explain my job(s).

Hugh's Life

A digram of different areas of my life

The core Area of my Job

My Core Area of involvement

The Core Things I am involved in

Some of the outside things I am involved in:

The Details

The Detailed Stuff

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EGIDS, SIL, and Language Documentation

About two or three weeks ago Gary Simons and Paul Lewis co-presented on an Extension to Fishman’s Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale (Lewis & Simons 2010) . Fishman’s scale for measuring Language Vitality and Language Endangerment has been around for about 2 decades (almost longer than me ;-)). The Ethnologue in its most recent version has started to list the position of the language on the EGIDS scale. This is something that the editors are looking to expand to all languages in the Ethnologue. This has some bearing on Language Documentation globally (as grant writers and funders look at EGIDS as a pivot point for language vitality) and because Language Documentation efforts usually (and typically) focus on languages on a 7 or higher on the scale (Shifting, Moribund, Nearly Extinct, etc). Continue reading

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