International linguistics conference coming to UH Manoa in March

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Nick Thieberger, (808) 956-3240
Department of Linguistics
Posted: Feb 23, 2009

The first annual International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation will be held March 12-14 at the Hawaii Imin International Conference Center on the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus.

There will be over 150 presentations at the three-day conference, with participants from all over the world. Plenarists include Nikolaus Himmelmann from Muenster, Germany, whose work has been instrumental in establishing language documentation as a novel field within linguistics.

"The loss of many of the world‘s languages is prompting scholars and speakers to work on recording, supporting and relearning small languages—those with relatively few speakers, and often spoken by indigenous people," said conference organizer Nick Thieberger, a professor in the UHM Department of Linguistics. "Sharing ideas on how to support those languages will be a major focus of the conference."

Added Paulina Yourupi, a speaker of Pollapese from Chuuk in Micronesia, "Though language changes are inevitable, the rate of change in Pollapese has increased because of out-migration, as seen in vacant homes and near abandoned classrooms on Pollap. The lack of documentation of the language makes it difficult to quantify language change, but it is observable by speakers. Something needs to be done immediately to avert a disaster befalling this language."

The conference at UHM will be followed by a trip to Hilo for participants wishing to observe the immersion Hawaiian language program on the Big Island.

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