Welcome to the Symposium on Historical-Comparative Linguistics for Language Revitalization

Saturday, June 29-Sunday, June 30, 2019
David Risling Room
3201 Hart Hall
University of California, Davis

·      Jorge Emilio Rosés Labrada (University of Alberta)
·      Justin Spence (UC Davis)

Recent scholarship has explored the mutually beneficial relationship between historical-comparative linguistics and language documentation. However, language revitalization has been largely absent from these discussions even though historical-comparative linguistics has figured prominently in the revitalization and reclamation of endangered languages and dormant languages that are known principally through archival documentation collected in the past. In this symposium, we propose to address this gap by bringing together a group of scholars and practitioners whose language revitalization and reclamation work draws on historical-comparative methods. We specifically propose to focus on six questions:

  1. How can historical-comparative linguistics help to fill gaps, both lexical and grammatical, in the existing documentation of formerly dormant languages?
  2. How can historical-comparative linguistics inform the evaluation of existing documentation to be mobilized for the creation of teaching materials?
  3. How can the study of languages undergoing revitalization and reclamation expand the empirical scope of historical-comparative linguistics and shed new light on questions of general interest in the field?
  4. How can the corpus of documentation relevant to revitalizing a given language be expanded by working with speakers of related languages, thus supporting the creation of richer learning materials?
  5. What is the value of comparative philological work based on older documentation for language revitalization?
  6. How can we more effectively train revitalization practitioners in historical-comparative linguistics?

By focusing on these and other ways in which historical-comparative linguistics can aid language revitalization and reclamation efforts, we hope to reach a wide audience of both linguists and communities currently working towards promoting their languages. This workshop will thus contribute to ongoing efforts aimed at promoting the maintenance of the world’s indigenous languages.

Invited Keynote Speakers:
·      Marianne Mithun (UC Santa Barbara)
·      Pam Munro (UCLA)