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Dr Mary Hermes: "Beyond the Clarion Call: Documentation as Language Reclamation", 20 Nov 2015

University of Melbourne

Date: 20 November 2015

When15:15 –16:15, 20 November 2015

WhereRoom 407, Babel (Building 139), University of Melbourne

In this paper we discuss a five year Anishinaabemowin documentation and description project and illustrate how we adapted the documentation agenda in response to reclamation goals, in particular, in light of the needs of language learners. The science of documentation no longer stops at preservation; the intellectual and linguistic rights of Indigenous people must be considered. There is a call to action by and for speakers of indigenous endangered languages, although how that action should occur is often unclear.

This project offers one case, to illustrate the negotiation of relationships among applied linguists, descriptive linguists, immersion teachers, community members, and academics. In some cases, individuals embody more than one of these identities, helping to blur and change the distinctions. We critically examine the processes and priorities of Anishinaabe language learners who have learned some skills to document conversations, and discuss how in this process we learned more clearly what our priorities for documentation are. This represents a traversing of discourses: our research engaged with the dominant paradigms for documentation funding and training, but also a commitment to remain responsive to an interpretation of what was dictated by the community needs. We argue that our focus on language reclamation within this project pushed the documentation paradigm to shift in positive ways. We conclude by urging other researchers to consider how documentation work should be shaped by goals of reclamation.

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