ALS2012‎ > ‎Workshops‎ > ‎

Community-based language work/research

Organiser: John Henderson


Linguists are involved in diverse ways with, and in, the communities of Indigenous and minority languages in Australia and elsewhere. This has given rise to discussion about the nature of this engagement by linguists, both non-Indigenous and Indigenous, and other participants in language communities. Two focuses of this discussion are, firstly, the language activities involved, and secondly, how the various roles of the participants are negotiated. Recent literature contains discussions of general principles and models (Bell 2010, Rice 2006, Czaykowska-Higgins 2009) and accounts of specific situations (for example, Olawsky 2011 and Bowern & James 2011).

The situations are diverse and individual, and encompass many different roles and activities. These include: university academics and post-graduate students conducting scholarly research on theoretical questions, and/or producing language descriptions or documentation, or acting as advisors to community projects; and community-employed linguists working in a team to develop language resources, or engaged in other aspects of community language work; and many other possible combinations of roles and activities.

We invite papers that focus on:

  • descriptions and analyses of specific projects and programs, especially with a focus on the roles of different participants,
  • evaluation of projects and programs,
  • the general nature of linguists’ involvement with communities, including ethical and political issues,
  • training and other preparation for linguists engaged in community-based work.
Abstracts should follow the Guidelines for Abstracts on the conference website.  References should be provided for background and comparative situations, and for relevant applied and theoretical literature.



Bell, Jeanie. 2010. Language and linguistic knowledge: A cultural treasure. Ngoonjook, No. 35, pp. 84-96.

Bowern, Claire and Bentley James. 2011. Yan-nhangu language documentation and revitalisation. pp.361-371 in John Hobson et al. (eds) Re-awakening languages: theory and practice in the revitalisation of Australia’s Indigenous languages. Sydney: Sydney University Press

Czaykowska-Higgins, Ewa. 2009. Research Models, Community Engagement, and Linguistic Fieldwork: Reflections on Working within Canadian Indigenous Communities. Language Documentation & Conservation Vol. 3, No. 1, pp. 15-50.

Olawsky, Knut J. 2011. Revitalisation strategies for Miriwoong. pp.146-154 in Hobson at al. (eds)

Rice, Keren. 2006. Ethical issues in linguistic fieldwork: an overview. Journal of Academic Ethics 4: 123-155.