There is a new research group on campus.  ELK-Tech (Endangered Language Knowledge & Technology) was formed earlier this year as a collaborative effort to explore, adapt, and develop “digital tools” to support language documentation and revitalization of global endangered languages.

The initiative is co-facilitated by SLaLS faculty Erik Anonby and Kumiko Murasugi and the group includes members of global Indigenous endangered language communities working in collaboration with researchers and practitioners in the fields of linguistics, applied linguistics, Indigenous studies, geography & environmental studies, computer science, and information technology.

The group’s first major event, “Digital tools for endangered languages: Listening, learning and looking ahead” was held here at Carleton, September 27-28.  The event was well-attended and discussions were far-ranging, addressing topics as diverse as: digital tools (existing and envisioned), data privacy and sovereignty, disparity of Internet access and related consequences, challenges of documentation, language mapping, cultural and historical realities, language policy, and copyright law.

Participants included language educators, program administrators, community Elders, linguists, computer scientists, applied linguists, cybercartographers, geographers, and more.

Photo Credit: Peter Pulsifer (2019)

In addition to members of the Carleton community, there was strong Indigenous representation including members of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, Kanyen’kéha (Mohawks) of Akwesasne and Kahnawà:ke, Anishinaabe of Pikwakanagan, Innu of Sept-Îles, Québec, and representatives from Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit, Tungasuvvingat Inuit, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, Nunavut Sivuniksavut and the Government of Nunavut.  Their contributions did much to help shape the narrative over the two days.

Conversations were also enriched by the presence of: language documentation researchers who flew in from as far away as Italy, Hawaii, California, and Alberta; representatives of First Voices, a west coast initiative focused on language archiving and teaching; and contributions from Drs. Sheyholislami, Surki, and colleagues in the Kurdish community; along with a pre-recorded video presentation by Australian linguist Steven Bird.

Findings and results from the event will be presented by Erik Anonby, Kahente Horn-Miller and Rebekah Ingram at the upcoming Foundation for Endangered Languages conference in Sydney, Australia in December.

For more information about ELK-Tech, visit their website.

ELK-Tech is supported in 2019-20 with funding from Carleton’s Multidisciplinary Research Catalyst Fund.