This book presents a new approach to the documentation of endangered languages, based on the development of materials for Sm'algyax, the endangered language of the Tsimshian Nation, Northwest British Columbia. It deals with issues of particular concern in endangered languages taking the development of the Sm'algyax Learners' Dictionary as a case study. The book describes the community directed approach taken during the dictionary project; identifying strengths and challenges associated with this method. It involves a symbiotic relationship between descriptive, pedagogical and sociolinguistic areas of research, ensuring the preparation of user-friendly materials. As the history of the Tsimshian Nation is closely tied up with the vitality of the language, sociolinguistic factors important to understanding the state of the language today are identified and the typology of the language is described. A number of language planning problems that become particularly acute when working with communities of endangered languages are discussed in depth here. The discussion provides examples specifically relating to Sm'algyax, though the methodologies developed here could be used in similar situations elsewhere. They include: orthography development; dictionary design; and the management of lexical expansion.
Contents: Part One: Community directed language documentation. 1: Responding effectively to language endangerment. Part Two: Sm'algyax: the language of the Tsimshian Nation. 2: History of Sm'algyax and the Tsimshian Nation. 3: Sm'algyax Today. 4: Introduction to Sm'algyax Grammar. Part Three: Community directed language documentation in practice. 5: Dictionary Design for the Sm'algyax Learners' Dictionary. 6: Lexical expansion in Sm'algyax. 7: Representing Sm'algyax words through English. 8: Polysemy and homonymy in the Sm'algyax Learners' Dictionary. 9: Spelling in Sm'algyax. 10: Variation in Sm'algyax. Part Four: Reflections on the community directed approach. 11: Community directed language work: requirements and outcomes. References
Because this text was published by the Endangered Languages of the Pacific Rim Project in Japan, with funding from the Japanese government, it is not available for commercial sale. Instead, copies are available from the author. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org. To obtain a copy send a cheque for US $10 (to cover return postage by airmail) to:
Dr. Tonya Stebbins
Research Centre for Linguistic Typology
La Trobe University