This blog post originally appeared on March 24th, 2015.
Photo credit to Robyn Giffen (thanks, Robyn!)
February 28th, 2015, 4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation, Honolulu, Hawai’i
In February 2015, I presented a paper called “Reading Dictionaries in the Dark: The significance of evolving language materials” at the 4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation. In my paper, I described the importance of developing tangible materials, no matter how imperfectly made, in language documentation work, so that community members have something to hold on to and use as long-term projects, which might take years to develop, go forward.
However, it can be challenging to work on these tangible pieces of language documentation when we are faced with the academic pressures of “publish or perish”, particularly for new scholars and graduate students. To help provide some support, therefore, I coined a hashtag in this presentation as well – #GetYourLangDocOut.
I was inspired by the social media trend to #GetYourManuscriptOut, started by Raul Pacheco-Vega as a way to “fight procrastination in academic writing through crowd-sourcing”. In this example, when you are working on an academic publication you share with your internet networks so that you can have a sense of shared support and connectivity.
Similarly, the hashtag #GetYourLangDocOut (aka #GetYourLanguageDocumentationOut) purpose is to encourage the development of language documentation materials through crowd-sourcing of support. It can be used to share with others when you are working on materials which aim to give language documentation (in whatever form – books, games, music, films etc.) back to community members for them to use in their language endeavours.
Just to clarify, the hashtag’s use is NOT to point fingers about procrastination (we academics get touchy about our writing deadlines and this is true of the language documentation materials we collect as well or it has been in my experience). However, I know I could and should do more with the Kala language documentation that I’ve been involved with and the Kala dictionary project, which I described in my presentation, truly showed me why this was important for raising the prestige of Kala and for empowerment of community members.
So, let’s celebrate our contribution to the tangible items we are involved in producing for communities when we #GetYourLangDocOut!