University of California, Santa Barbara - Department of Linguistics
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University of California, Santa Barbara -- June 23 - August 1, 2008  

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June 24 - June 28, 10:30 a.m. - 12:15 a.m.
IHC Conference Room

Margaret Florey
Monash University, Australia

Susan Penfield
University of Arizona


Course Overview
In our framework, a language activist is a person who focuses energetic action towards language. We identify two primary groups of activists. Internal language activists are community members who have a personal interest in supporting their heritage language, while external language activists are those who are outside of the community, and have no personal link to the heritage language or languages in question. This course is intended for all those who, by these definitions, take themselves to be language activists. The potential student audience thus includes community members, linguists, students in linguistics, educators, and so forth. This course will examine and critically reflect on the range of skills which language activists may need in order to work in partnership with communities to undertake language documentation and revitalization projects.

Through a series of four classes, this workshop will cover the following range of topics:

  1. Introduction In this first class we problematize the notion of language activism. We explore definitions of activism, ask who is a language activist, and examine what they do in diverse settings.

  2. The players Partnerships between activists from different backgrounds and with different skills and experiences are a crucial element in language activism. In this session we will examine who is involved in community language activism. We look at how partnerships can be formed and what role/s the different partners can play.

  3. Training and skills transfer This class focuses on the skills language activists need, and how these skills can be acquired. We discuss where the training does or should take place— whether in community settings, regional workshop, or universities, or ? We will explore ways in which skills can be transferred more widely to other members of language communities.

  4. Activism, documentation and revitalization We assert that the best efforts in documentation and revitalization are not going to be effective without increased attention towards activism at both the local level and the international level. In this final class we will work towards a more holistic conception of a documentation/revitalization project, one which is fundamentally based on activism and which fosters participatory practice.

In small groups, students will work towards drafting a plan for community language activism.

Course Materials



This page was last modified on 8 June 2008.
Institute on Field Linguistics and Language Documentation - Dept. of Linguistics, UCSB