A conversation on endangered languages and their documentation

An American Friends of SOAS webinar on Endangered Languages Documentation will take place on Thursday 28 October 2021.

About the event

Language documentation has contributed innovative methodologies and powerful tools for linguistic research on endangered languages. It shifted the mind-set that working with just one or two consultants outside of their speech community using a single method (namely elicitation) is not adequate. Use of diverse and innovative methods and well-grounded methodologies; extensive community participation both in multi-modal recording/collecting of data and in processing it, are essential aspects of language documentation. This webinar will demonstrate the positive results of such collaboration with community and practical challenges this might bring.


Dr Felix Ameka – Felix is a linguist working on the intersection of grammar, meaning and culture, and the description and documentation of languages in their multilingual ecologies. His empirical specialisation is on West-African languages. He is currently professor of Ethnolinguistic Diversity and Vitality at Leiden University and teaches in the departments of Linguistics, African Languages and cultures, and African Studies. In recognition of his pioneering work on cross-cultural semantics and his long-standing research ties with Australian universities, he was elected as a Corresponding Fellow to the Australian Academy of Humanities in 2019. He is also an elected Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences (2015), and of Academia Europaea (2021).

Dr Mandana Seyfeddinipur – Mandana is the director of the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (ELDP) and the head of the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR). ELDP supports and trains researchers to document endangered languages worldwide. The materials resulting from these language documentation projects are digitally preserved and made available at ELAR. In July 2021, ELDP and ELAR moved to the Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Dr Azeb Amha – Azeb is a researcher at the African Studies Center, Leiden University. Her research focuses on language-culture interface, descriptive linguistics and language documentation. She has extensive experience in language documentation and in working with speech community. Azeb wrote the first grammar of the Maale language. Azeb’s ELAR collection Documentation of house construction and terrace farming in Zargulla, an endangered Omotic language is available here.

Ida Sodoke Assem – Ida is a PhD student of linguistics in the University of Ghana, Legon. Ida has a research interest in the use of language in context, language and culture and language documentation; particularly, the documentation of endangered cultural practices. For her PhD research, Ida is currently working on the documentation of endangered indigenous cuisines and their associated linguistic expressions among the Akan and Ewe ethnolinguistic groups in Ghana. Ida was a 2019 AFSOAS Scholarship recipient for the intensive language documentation training program hosted by ELDP.

Kenneth Bodua-Mango – Bodua-Mango Kenneth is a PhD candidate at the University of Ghana, Legon. He wrote a corpus-based thesis on Coordinators in Safaliba; a Gur (Mabia) language spoken in the Savanah Region of Ghana. Kenneth was a 2019 AFSOAS Scholarship recipient for the intensive language documentation training program hosted by ELDP. He is also a recipient of the Volkswagen Foundation Travel Scholarship to attend the Lagos Summer School in Digital Humanities held from 9th – 15th May 2021.

The webinar will be moderated by Dr Naciem Nikkhah.

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