Course abstract - Hinton

Course: Marrying academic linguistics and community-based linguistics

Instructor: Leanne Hinton (University of California - Berkeley)

Description: Many people involved in the documentation or revitalization of endangered languages find that their work in community-based linguistics and the Academy from which many of them come may have conflicting goals and values, and may put conflicting pressures on the involved parties. In this course we hope to define community-based linguistics (CBL), identify the various ways in which the work of linguists and community people intersect in CBL, and examine the issues that need to be resolved in order for CBL to be useful and beneficial for all parties.


  1. What is community-based linguistics? How does it differ from the central research fields in the linguistic Academy? Examples of community-based linguistics; What problems are there between CBL and the Academy, and what can be done to solve them?
  2. Documentation – history of linguistic documentation; changing relationship between documentary linguistics and the speech communities; trends in linguistic documentation in the context of both academic linguistics and CBL
  3. Language Revitalization – What is it? What are the ways communities work on language revitalization? What are the roles for linguists? What training do linguists need in order to be useful in language revitalization? Can language revitalization be an academic subject? How do linguists doing CBL relate to the Academy and vice Versa? 
  4. Indiginizing linguistics – indigenous linguists; issues for indigenous people coming into the Academy; how can they get the kind of training they need for their goals? bringing indigenous values to linguistics


The discussion will be furthered by readings, many from the newly published Routledge Handbook of Language Revitalization, as well as other relevant papers.

Holton, G. (2009) 'Relearning Athabascan languages in Alaska: Creating sustainable language communities through creolization' in Goodfellow, A. (2009) Speaking of endangered languages: Issues in revitalization. UK: Cambridge. pp. 238-265

Leonard, W. (2017) 'Producing language reclamation by decolonizing 'language'. in Language Documentation and Description, Special issue - Reclaiming languages: Decolonizing 'language endangerment' from the ground up. pp. 1-20

Rice, K. (2009) 'Must there be two solitudes? Language activists and linguists working together' in Reyhner, J. & Lockhard, J. (2009) Indigenous language revitalization: Encouragement, guidance and lessons learned. Flagstaff: Northern Arizona University. pp. 30-52

Woods, L. (2017) Ethics in linguistics research and working with Indigenous communities: Redefining collaborative linguistic research: Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives. Thesis.

Zuckerman, G. (2009) Hybridity versus revivability: Multiple causation, forms and patterns. Journal of language contact, 2(2): 40-67

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