Building a Nasioi language database


Project code:  ART003

Disciplinary Area

Applied Language Studies and Linguistics

 

Supervisor

Jason Brown

Nasioi is a language of Bougainville, and currently has little documentation behind it.  This project aims to rectify this situation by creating a database of language structures (in particular, words) from existing sources, such as articles, grammars, and field notes.  Creating a database such as this is the first step in the development of a dictionary, which the literature on the language currently lacks altogether.  Such a database can have value for comparative work (e.g. in comparing Nasioi to the three other languages it is readily related to), it can aid in the development of pedagogical and literacy materials, and it can facilitate the location of particular data structures for research purposes.  Thus, this project aims to produce a multi-functional “living” collection of Nasioi words and phrases.

Scholar’s Work

The summer scholar will be responsible for collecting data from existing sources such as grammars, wordlists, published articles, and field notes.  This data will then be compiled into a searchable database, the structure of which the scholar will help to design.  The scholar will have the opportunity to co-author any works that might result from the lexicographic work that they undertake.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

A working knowledge of linguistics is necessary, especially the basic principles of phonology, morphology, and syntax.  Knowledge of Papuan languages, or experience with the Nasioi language would be desirable, but not necessary.

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Auckland Voices: Puketapapa Youth


Project code:  ART005

Disciplinary Area

Applied Language Studies and Linguistics

 

Supervisor

Helen Charters

Auckland has some of the most ethnically and linguistically mixed suburbs in NZ and indeed, in the world. Auckland Voices is a Marsden-funded project that will assess the extent to which this mixing encourages the English spoken by immigrant Aucklanders from different origins to impact on the way English is spoken in local communities and across Auckland. This summer scholarship will make a contribution towards that wider project by recruiting and interviewing participants from the Summer Scholar’s own community, or a similar one. The interviews will be conducted with participants in the under 25 age group. (The locality may be altered to match the home community of the successful applicant, but each scholar will take responsibility for recruiting in a different area.)

Scholar’s Work

Contact and recruit 15 members of their own local community, from both sexes, in the under 25 age group, travel to that community, and record interviews with those participants in order to obtain samples of natural local varieties of English. Each interview will last 1-2 hours (30 hours maximum).

The scholar will then transcribe the interviews orthographically in time-aligned format (approx. 300 hours). The remaining time will be used attending training and other research meetings, doing project administration and writing their final report.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The Scholar should have a genuine affection for their neighbourhood and people in their community; they should be good listeners and be able to contribute enough to keep a conversation going without dominating it. 

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Comparative Polynesian Grammatical Markers


Project code:  ART006

Disciplinary Area

Applied Language Studies and Linguistics

 

POLLEX (Polynesian Lexicon) is a database of over 5,000 cognate sets and reconstructions for Polynesian languages, developed over the past 50 years by linguists at the University of Auckland. (See pollex.org.nz) For various reasons, the grammatical words in the Polynesian vocabulary (tense markers, articles, possessives, demonstratives, etc.) are incompletely and inconsistently represented in this database. The purpose of the project is to remedy this deficiency.

Scholar’s Work

The Scholar would

(1) Compile a master list of grammatical items, based on published

lists by Pawley, Clark and others.

(2) Check existing POLLEX entries against this list for errors and omissions.

(3) Compile data from available dictionaries and grammars to fill gaps and support new reconstructions.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

Basic understanding of grammatical terms and concepts, and of comparative reconstruction.

Some familiarity with at least one Polynesian language would be an advantage.

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Employer demand for speakers of languages other than English


Project code:  ART013

Disciplinary Area

Applied Language Studies and Linguistics

 

Supervisor

Rosemary Erlam

This project aims to investigate the extent to which there is employer demand for speakers of languages other than English. It also aims to establish additional information such as which languages are most in demand and in which employment sectors. The idea of the project was initially motivated by the ‘New Zealand Learning Languages Summit’, as hosted by ILEP on September 19th 2015, where concerns about the falling numbers of students electing to study a language other than English in New Zealand schools were discussed. The aim of the project is to see whether opportunities/requirements for language use in the workplace might be able to highlight the value of language learning. A small scale pilot study was conducted over the December-February 2015/6 summer period but was limited to looking at data that was in the public domain. This data consisted of job advertisements where typically only a limited number of requirements are listed. It is planned that for a larger scale study an Ethics application would be submitted in order to allow for the interviewing of employers. This would enable for some measure of the extent to which language skills might be an advantage for a prospective applicant, whilst not a requirement.

Scholar’s Work

The student will collect data about jobs advertised over the period of the summer scholarship. Those jobs which specify skill in a language other than English, as a requirement, will be coded to enable questions about language and type of employment opportunity to be addressed. Employers will be invited to take part in a short interview to provide more information. A sample of other employers, from a range of employment contexts, who are advertising positions will be contacted and invited to take part in a questionnaire/interview aiming to establish whether an employee presenting with proficiency in a language other than English would have an advantage in applying for the advertised position.

The student will collect all the data, which will include conducting all the interviews. They will code and analyse all the data. They will have the opportunity to co-write a paper with the supervisor.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites

The applicant will need to be able to work independently as they will take responsibility for all aspects of this project. They will need to be able to work with and manage a large amount of data. They will need to be accurate with an attention to detail. They will have excellent skill in relating to others as they will need to set up and successfully manage interviews with people whom they have not met. Previous experience of independent research/project management would be an advantage. Speaking a language other than English would be an advantage; however native speaker or near native speaker proficiency in English is essential.  

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Gitksan Multimedia Digitization and Linguistic Transcription Project


Project code:  ART036

Disciplinary Area

Applied Language Studies and Linguistics

 

Supervisor

Tyler Peterson

Jason Brown

Gitksan is an endangered indigenous language spoken in Northwestern Canada. In recent years there has been increasing activity on the documentation and linguistic research on Gitksan. One of these activities is a major documentation project funded by the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme (SOAS). The objective of this project is to establish a foundational body of video, audio and text documents thematically centered on the narrative, specifically including the telling of stories and legends, the relaying of personal history, and the description of the events involved in modern day life. The documentation phase of the project is now complete, and the next phase is the post-production and study of the rich linguistic and cultural information recorded through these media. As such, the goals of the current project are threefold: 1) the post-production of the field materials and media; this includes the digitization and organization of various kinds of media (field notes, video interviews, audio recordings of language elicitation, photographs); 2) the linguistic transcription of the language data in these media; 3) the preparation of data for various research outputs, which may be pursued by the Scholar and/or the Supervisors.   

Scholar’s Work:

The Scholar’s Work will involve two main activities: the first is to annotate linguistic field notes, recordings, and video, as well as to digitize and organize media such as field notes, audio recordings, photographs and video recordings. This is the foundation for the second activity, which is to conduct an analysis of the digitized language data, as carried out in three stages. The Scholar will be trained in the tools and techniques in the transcription of the primary language and the morphological analysis and translation of these data (the second stage of analysis). Much of the language data that was collected involves the documentation and testing of linguistic modality, or the ways speakers use their language to talk about things they haven’t directly witnessed (much like the words might and must, or the expressions I heard that function in English). Once these data have been transcribed and a basic analysis done, the Scholar will then focus in on and identify these modal expressions for the purposes of developing a functional and theoretical analysis of them. As such, it is expected that these activities together will build the research capacity and practical skills of the Scholar in doing linguistic research.

Required Skills/Pre-requisites:

A basic familiarity digital audio and video, and non-linear editing, or an interest in learning about these. Knowledge of Gitksan is not required, but familiarity with the International Phonetic Alphabet is required. Patience and an attention to detail are essential.  

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