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?
Just a quick thought.
Perception based loosely on facts:
A lot of language documentation money gets pushed towards endangered languages or languages with very few speakers. Is often endowed upon the aspiring academic, who may be promising to create a grammar for a previously un-written or undescribed language.
Sometimes I have the opportunity to read grammars. I read them and have questions about how the described data sounds. Both In context and as elicited. To that end I wonder if it wouldn't be money better spent for language documentation and benefit to the academy, if organizations funding language documentation research for the academy would rather fund the collection of audio texts and video texts of data already described in grammars. In a way provide the support that modern grammars should have.
That is, I find that often the state of grammars about languages (often about African languages) are so fraught with errors, or jaded with theoretical disposition, that it would be immensely helpful if these grammars were supported with audio texts. It seems that the focus on small, often dying, languages, requiring an impetus of "adequate" endangerment for funding, shows a pre-disposition to try and collect specimens of some exotic language. While the collection of rare specimens is good in some sense, it is not always the most gentrifying for the language speakers, nor is it really the most helpful for academic pursuits.
There have been several interesting projects which have created language use visualizations over the last few years. The Ethnologue project produces a particular kind of visualization. In the past I have talked about the need to socialize and make the data which the Ethnologue apps are based on more accurate to WGS 84. I talk about that need in two places, on insite here: Geographical Data and on my non-insite blog: https://hugh.thejourneyler.org/2012/some-current-challenges-in-using-gis-information-in-the-sil-international-corporate-knowledge-system/
There are several challenges with the basic assumptions put forward with the current Ethnologue visualizations.
- they project a language homogeny which is not necessarily accurate to real life.
- they project a geographical display which is not indicative of real language use. That is language use may actually be in digital mediums which can not be heard at certain locations.
- Ethnologue maps make no overt claims about digital communications devices and their use by minority language speakers, however, my feeling in general is that SIL (especially in our training programs) does not assume a digital device using minority language user.
One of the tools which SIL could use to inform its business intelligence is the language of use in digital social mediums. For instance Wikipedia allows any ISO 639-3 language community to form their own wikipedia. This means that all of the IP edits are recorded and public. This also means that that would give us a language use location based on IP addresses. This can then be super imposed on additional data collected from Geo-enabled tweets. With such information, prior to a survey the pre survey data available about language use (in certain contexts) just got more interesting. – if of course survey is about questions of language use.
Some people have taken to mapping Wikipedia edits. Such a map shows that there are a lot of people in a lot of places, speakers of minority languages included, who are able to edit content centrally hosted like that which is found on wikipedia. Here is a map created from the English language wikipedia, which is available from http://www.dailydot.com/society/wikipedia-conflict-map-flame-wars/.
As I state previously, the homogeneity of language use within a given geographical region is difficult to map. There are questions of speaker population density, and questions of social environments. While the Ethnologue maps are very detailed in terms of their global scope one of the challenges for this kind of visualization is expressing diversity. Below is a map of language diversity based on tweets in New York City. The power of using tweets to measure the linguistic diversity of a region is that tweets are usually connected between two or more people and reveals the social connection between those people. This is a powerful bit of information. SIL could leverage this data in several ways, one way would be to make this data available to its scripture use partners. Language may not always be a barrier to understanding the gospel but I have yet to see it not be an inroad to a relationships in and through which the gospel can not be shown or presented.
Language Diversity as demonstrated on twitter
If our conceptualization about language and its geographical distribution is at all reflected in the way that we look at Ethonlogue maps then we can often miss the wide distribution that many language communities have. For instance this language map show the use of Irish as twitter users are using it. Notice that the language is not bound to Ireland.
Something fantastic with Webonary data
The UK data explorer has a very interesting set up using a powerful (free and open) visualization software tool called D3.js The tool allows you to type in a word and see how it is spelled in a variety of languages. It uses Google Translate Check it out here: http://ukdataexplorer.com/european-translator/?word=man
WordPress is equally capable to serve up Webonary data if it is configured correctly.
Some other thoughts on linguistic cartography and the display of language vitality.
If you just like looking at language maps you might enjoy this post: https://hugh.thejourneyler.org/2012/types-of-linguistic-maps-the-mapping-of-linguistic-features/
One final thought
Here is an interesting set of maps for language use. While the Enthologue maps first language use, second language remains a mystery. These efforts are trying to add visualizations to the second most popularly spoken language for a geographical region.
- Australia: http://pappubahry.com/misc/electorate_langs/
- USA: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2014/05/language_map_what_s_the_most_popular_language_in_your_state.html
A second way to look at the earth is what are the places? This as been a recent hot topic in the Language Documentation circles. However, on the single language level there may or may not be a lot of interesting information to a lot of people. However, to look at the earth by which languages are taking about certain places is interesting. One point of large interaction for this conversation is wikipedia.
This is a quick note to record some of the things I have learned this week about working with lexical data within SIL's software options.
- There is information scattered all over the place:
- FLEx website: http://fieldworks.sil.org
- Google Group:https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/flex-list
- Toolbox website: http://www-01.sil.org/computIng/toolbox/
- Toolbox Google Grouphttps://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/ShoeboxToolbox-Field-Linguists-Toolbox
- Webonary Website: http://webonary.org/
And then on Webonary about Data transfer: http://webonary.org/data-transfer/
- Wesay: http://wesay.palaso.org/
- A redundancy of the FLEx Google group: http://tiki.lingtransoft.info/tiki-view_forum_thread.php?comments_parentId=27&topics_offset=1
- Various introductions to FLEx: http://tiki.lingtransoft.info/Introduction+to+Flex?structure=Navmenu
- MDF documentation:http://www-01.sil.org/computing/shoebox/mdf.html including this PDF
- The LIFt format: https://code.google.com/p/lift-standard/
- LiftTools: http://downloads.palaso.org/LiftTools/
- xHtml expression of lift: http://pathway.sil.org/features/standards/dictionary-xhtml-proposed-standard/
- FLEx website: http://fieldworks.sil.org
- What should the purpose of the websites be? to distribute the product or to build community around the product's existence?
My friend Ibrahim Tume Ushe and I had several conversations about gestures in NW Nigeria. In these two videos he shows me some of the more common gestures and explains their meanings.
This summer (June-August) I added 629 new citation to EndNote - mostly by hand. Of those citation 392 of them had PDFs attached to the citation. I am ready to learn how to more effectively use Endnote. I estimate that I still have 450 PDFs in various folders from courses and research trips to the library over the last few years that I need to add to EndNote.
I usually try and download .ris files when I find a resource I want to cite or use. The problem is that EndNote X6 does not allow for importing more than one .ris file at a time.
To speed up the process I have learned to use the OS X Concatenate command in terminal:
I open up terminal. type
cd type drag my folder containing the .ris files I want to add to EndNote over the blinking cursor and hit enter. I then type cat and drag all the .ris files I want to concatenate to one .ris file. type a
> symbol and the new .ris file's name. The result is a concatenation of all the data from the many .ris files into one .ris file. This allows me to go back to EndNote and import all the one massive .ris file and save clicks.
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
Learning, social pressures, writing capability are discussed in the context of Frisian.