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Seyfeddinipur, Mandana, ed. (2016) African language documentation: new data, methods and approaches. Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawai'i Press. (Language Documentation and Conservation No. 10)

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Over the past 20 years, language documentation activities have been increasing all over the world. Major funding initiatives in Germany (Dokumentation Bedrohter Sprachen (DoBeS) funded by Volkswagen Stiftung), the UK (Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) funded by Arcadia) and the US (Documentation of Endangered Languages (DEL) funded by the National Science Foundation) have enabled more and more scholars and students to conduct fieldwork and to document languages for which little or no documentation exists. Language documentation scholars have also initiated a critical evaluation of central concepts in the endangered languages documentation discourse, including assessments of concepts such as language endangerment and language shift, the documentary practices of scholars in the field and digital archiving practices. In particular, linguists working in Sub-Saharan Africa are now challenging the discussions traditionally dominated by North American and Australian discourses. New studies reinvigorating classic Boasian concepts and methodologies challenge the applicability of these concepts to the African context (see e.g. Essegbey et al. 2015, Lüpke & Storch 2013, Mc Laughlin 2009, Vigouroux & Mufwene 2008), as many of the issues and proposed solutions of the language documentation discourse to date do not apply to many areas of the continent (nor, indeed, to the many multilingual linguistic ecologies that can be found worldwide). Scholars are proposing a rethinking of models, theories and methods in the discourse of language documentation and language endangerment. The main line of thought presented in this volume is a broadening of the scope of linguistic investigation and documentation with an ethnographic view. A deeper contextual embedding of linguistic data in a detailed description of language use and its sociocultural context allows for a better understanding and interpretation of current language ecologies and of the documentary and descriptive data gathered within them. A broader understanding of a larger set of language use patterns, linguistic contexts and ecologies can in turn feed into our understanding of how languages evolve, shift and change, and how multilingual patterns arise and may either persevere or decline.

Item Type: Edited Book or Journal Volume
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Languages and Cultures > Department of Linguistics
ISBN: 9780985621162
Copyright Statement: © All texts and images are copyright to the respective authors. 2016. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 4.0 International License
Date Deposited: 21 Nov 2015 16:57

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