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ILARA Round-table: When speakers produce grammatical descriptions of their own languages, 24 Sept


Date: 3 September 2021

Round-table: When speakers produce grammatical descriptions of their own languages

Convenor: Pius  Akumbu


Azeb Amha
Akua Asantewan Campbell
Li Jianfu (Libu Lakhi)
Yankee Modi
Stephen Morey
Hannah Sarvasy

When: 23 Sept 2021, 9pm AEST

Where: YouTube


Many languages of the world have been passed on through oral tradition for thousands of years. Some of those languages are currently endangered, and one of the missions linguists have set for themselves in the last century or so, is to keep a record of those languages by describing them in the form of a grammar: a written description of the way a language is formally organized, with rules, and examples. Many speaker communities expect those grammars to be useful for them, by providing a path to literacy in their own languages. However, surveys have shown that despite the good intentions, such grammars are often disappointing to communities. This roundtable will explore the reasons for their disappointment, and suggest possible solutions, such as the taking up of grammar writing by native speakers themselves, with involvement of community members throughout the entire grammar writing process.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University