QUEST questionnaire – making archival resources accessible to language communities

This week on the ELAR blog, we want to share a questionnaire with you that was developed by members of the QUEST research project.

The goal of the questionnaire is to assess how best to make language materials accessible to speakers of those languages or their descendants. The questionnaire was devised by Ilya Khait and Leonore Lukschy as part of the QUEST research project at Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Berlin, funded by the German Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung.

Although language archives hold vast amounts of recordings and texts in hundreds of minoritised languages, many of the speakers of these languages only have limited access to these materials. In 2019, Hilaria Cruz, who is a linguist and native speaker of Chatino, said in an interview on the ELAR Blog after browsing her own Chatino Collection:

“I think that these records have other uses besides just recording the language for linguistics’ sake. You’re providing for families to reconnect with memories of loved ones. It’s not just a recording – this is keeping memories of families”

In order to improve access to recordings of minoritised languages, QUEST is gathering data, both from community members, and outsider researchers. The questionnaire is being translated into several languages. New versions of the questionnaire will be added to this post once they are available.

Questionnaire in English

Cuestionario en Español

Опросник по-русски

Questionnaire en français

Questionnaire for researchers who aren’t part of the language community (English)

Even with a good internet connection and general computer literacy, navigating an archive to find language materials can be challenging. Apart from issues like the written bias, users may encounter several barriers to accessing data, such as monolingual interfaces, complex catalogue systems and idiosyncratic metadata categories.

The QUEST research project

The main focus of the joint project  “QUEST: Quality – Established: Erprobung und Anwendung von Kurationskriterien und Qualitätsstandards für audiovisuelle, annotierte Sprachdaten” is on the potential for subsequent or secondary use of audiovisual, annotated language data in the humanities. Based on the development of quality standards and curation criteria for digital language data, quality assurance procedures for the creation and curation of such resources will be developed and tested. The QUEST project as a whole is divided into three priorities: “Quality Standards”, “Curation Criteria” and “Quality Assurance Measures”.

QUEST is funded by the Federal Ministry of  Education and Research (BMBF) and began on 1 June 2019. It is coordinated at the Institute for Finnougristik/Uralistik at the University of Hamburg. In addition to the coordination site in Hamburg, the network consists of the Leibniz Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS) in Berlin, the Archive for Spoken German/Institute for German Language (IDS) in Mannheim and the University of Cologne.

If you have feedback or questions about the questionnaire, please contact either Ilya Khait or Leonore Lukschy.

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