ELDP Remote Fieldwork workshop series

The Endangered Languages Documentation programme (ELDP) will host a series of online workshops on remote linguistic fieldwork 13-17 September 2021. Please register for the workshop series via this link.

Three people looking at a mobile phone with trees in the background.
Bunga Paulo, Mariamu Anyawire, and Christina Gwa’i, recording metadata on a smartphone during a language documentation training workshop in Haydom, Tanzania, organised by ELDP grantees Richard Griscom and Andrew Harvey. Photo by Nadia Jassim

The COVID-19 pandemic has made fieldwork impossible for many linguists. Researchers should only conduct in situ fieldwork if it is ethically advisable and safe. For this reason many linguists have had to find ways of conducting their fieldwork remotely. In a series of online workshops hosted by ELDP some concrete tools and methods for remote fieldwork will be presented. Attendees will gather hands-on experience, as well as learn about possibilities of redesigning their language documentation project to accomodate remote fielwork.

The workshops will take place from 13 to 17 September 2021, from 3 to 5 pm CEST. Please note that the workshop on Monday will take place from 3.30 to 5.30 pm CEST. After the workshops there will be time for discussion. In order to get the most out of the sessions, please read through the requirements below, and download and install the necessary tools prior to the workshop.

ELDP will additionally offer drop-in sessions for potential applicants after the workshops on Monday the 13th and Wednesday the 15th.

The workshops are free but registration via this link is necessary.


Workshop schedule

Establishing new relationships in online language work – Karolina Grzech & Selena Tisalema Shaca
Monday 13 Sep 2021, 3.30-5.30 pm CEST – followed by ELDP drop-in session for potential applicants

This workshop describes and problematises a language documentation workflow based entirely on online conferencing software, Zoom. In this workflow a linguist, external to the community, establishes a new project together with a native speaker community member. We applied this workflow in our joint project, which started in 2020 and focused on Tungurahua Kichwa, a Quechuan language spoken in the Ecuadorian Highlands.

What is particular about the discussed workflow is that the linguist and the native speaker did not know each other beforehand. The workshop will talk the participants through the steps they both undertook to launch a new and successful collaboration while only communicating online. We will cover the following issues:

  • Prerequisites for setting up a new project online
  • Getting to know each other: issue of trust in online work with strangers
  • The project’s workflow and practicalities
  • Online training
  • Data sharing
  • Combining online and in-situ fieldwork

The workshop’s aim is to account for all the steps of the project’s workflow in detail allowing for their replication. We also aim to offer a critical appraisal of this workflow from the perspective of both the native speaker and the researcher, as well as space for discussion with workshop participants.


YouTube as a transcription and translation tool – Alexander Rice
Tuesday 14 Sep 2021, 3-5 pm CEST

In this workshop participants will learn how to use YouTube as a transcription and translation tool and how to incorporate it into a remote language corpus workflow. YouTube provides an easy way in which documentation teams can do corpus work and create persistent and sustainable language data and accessible annotations with communities on a remote basis. This can be useful when travel restrictions and other pandemic-related events may prevent researchers and community members from working together in person. Using a short sample video, participants will practice the following tasks:

  • Transcribing and translating in YouTube and creating subtitle files
  • Exporting subtitle files from YouTube and importing them to ELAN as annotations
  • Exporting intonational unit annotations from ELAN and importing them to YouTube as subtitles

We will also discuss the appropriate contexts in which YouTube should be used for corpus work and recommended practices regarding online data management and privacy.

Participants should have a YouTube account and download the short sample video from this link: https://tinyurl.com/xt5a6pcd and upload it to their YouTube account before attending the workshop. Consult the following support page if you are unfamiliar with uploading content to YouTube: https://tinyurl.com/2bvrfjux. Participants should also have a basic text editor (such as Notepad, Notepad++, Atom, TextEdit, etc.) and ELAN (version 5.7 or later) installed on their machine prior to attending the workshop.


Redesigning language documentation projects during the COVID-19 pandemic – Katherine Bolaños, Jakob Lesage, Sheena Shah
Wednesday 15 Sep 2021, 3-5 pm CEST – followed by ELDP drop-in session for potential applicants

During this session three ELDP grantees will discuss how they redesigned their projects during the COVID-19 pandemic to adapt to remote fieldwork.


Supporting linguistic data collection from afar: a mobile metadata system – Richard Griscom
Thursday 16 Sep 2021, 3-5 pm CEST

This workshop describes a method for remotely supporting and monitoring a language documentation project conducted by speakers, community activists, or academic researchers, through use of a free and open source data collection platform called KoBoToolbox. The system is based on the creation of digital linguistic metadata with mobile devices linked to a secure central server, giving project leaders the ability to immediately access metadata as it is submitted, quickly generate summary reports and visualizations, and export metadata for further processing and archiving. The system is suitable for anyone who would like to integrate mobile metadata into a new or ongoing project and is able to provide the necessary training either remotely or in person.

In preparation for the workshop, participants should create a free account at kobotoolbox.org and install the latest version of Lameta.


Methods and data management tools for using WhatsApp for language work – Kelsey Neely
Friday 17 Sep 2021, 3-5 pm CEST

This workshop demonstrates some methods and tools that can be used for doing language work via WhatsApp. There are many ways that WhatsApp and similar messaging technologies can be applied to language work, but this talk specifically focuses on the use of voice messages as the primary means of carrying out common research tasks like elicitation and text analysis. Voice messages are an excellent option for these types of tasks, especially in contexts where internet connections are too slow or intermittent for real-time audio or video calls and where there is not a standard orthography that speakers are confident in using.

In this workshop we will cover the following:

  • The pros and cons of this method and some possible workflows for different types of elicitation
  • How to save and organize WhatsApp audio files and how to re-encode, re-name, and concatenate them using Python and Ffmpeg
  • How to create a pre-segmented .eaf based on clip duration using Python and Ffmpeg
  • A possible workflow for text annotation (e.g., careful-respeakings and translations)
  • A sample script for using an .eaf annotation from ELAN to clips that can be used in WhatsApp

Before the workshop you will need the following devices and software:


If you have any questions about the event please contact ELDP at eldp@eldp.net

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