Updates from the Partnership: Workshop, Instagram Contest, Quizlet & More!

The Second Mi’gmaq Language Summer Workshop is being held Tuesday August 5, beginning at the Listuguj Bingo Hall. Guest speakers Starr Paul of Eskasoni and Diane Mitchell of Listuguj will speak on the importance of learning the Mi’gmaq language and programs that help support language learning. The theme of the workshop is learning language through social media. There will be fun cultural booths set up around the workshop that include basket-making, language learning resources and replicas of Mi’gmaq language classrooms. Breakfast and lunch is provided. All events are free. This workshop would not be possible without the organizing committee of the high school graduate and post secondary students attending Mi’gmaq classes.
Win an iPod sScreenshot 2014-07-29 13.26.04huffle by posting a video of you speaking Mi’gmaq on instagram with the hashtag #migmaqcontest or post the video to the Listuguj Mi’gmaw Language Club on Facebook.
Only 3 weeks in and already 27 sets and 258 words and phrases ready to be studied have been created in Quizlet, the flashcard app and website! Mary Ann Metallic has been adding words after each class that coincide the content she teaches in the class. Community members from around Listuguj have lent their voices to record terms and phrases to help you learn Mi’gmaq. We welcome any community members to volunteer to record a set! Contact the Education Directorate to record.Screenshot 2014-07-29 13.33.51
See whose voices you recognize already!
Voices on there are Lola Vicaire, River Ajig, Vicky Metallic, Joyce Barnaby, Mary Ann Metallic, Janice Vicaire, Joe Wilmot, Donna Lexi Metallic and many more!
Daily dose of Mi’gmaq words with #migmaqwordoftheday on the LearnMigmaq twitter.
Douglas, Silver, Joe and Diane have been working to reorganize and continue to develop content on CAN 8. This includes a more interactive user interface with more ways to test and improve knowledge of Mi’gmaq. This places an emphasis on showing rather than telling users patterns in the language.

What do Beyoncé and Buzzfeed have in common with the Mi’gmaq language? Read on!

Summer 2014, the McGill students are back. Yuliya, McGill PhD Candiate, and Carol Rose, beginning her doctoral studies at Cornell University in the fall, will both be traveling to Listuguj for their second and third summers, respectively. Douglas Gordon, an undergraduate in the linguistics department, will also be joining them after having been awarded the McGill Arts Scholarship.

The team plans to continue projects like the wiki, language-learning software, and research.

New possibilities for summer 2014 are the following:

  • Twitter word of the day
  • Instagram/vine video of the day featuring a conversation or vocabulary word in Mi’gmaq
  • A new web site, separate from the linguistic-y one, devoted to Mi’gmaq learning resources
  • Buzzfeed-esque top 10 lists (e.g. top 10 essential words in Mi’gmaq, five ways to say hello)
  • Weekly language club
  • Surveys posted around in visible places of students learning Mi’gmaq similar to the survey posted below for AMEX by Beyoncé (except “why I learn Mi’gmaq” rather than “my card..”)

Surveys for students of Mi’gmaq, but less AMEX-y and more language-y

Please comment with thoughts about this below. All input is greatly appreciated!

New Pages Added to the Grammar Wiki

There have been some recent developments on the Mi’gmaq grammar wiki. These include the addition of two new pages.

One new page in the works is a subpage of the Mi’gmaq tense page. In light of the recent presentation at the 45th Algonquian Conference (Little, 2013), I have created a new page on Evidentiality in Mi’gmaq. Evidentiality is the grammatical marking of information source. This page includes an overlay of the evidentiality system in Mi’gmaq. This page indicates that are two clear evidentiality markers–direct and indirect. The direct evidentiality marker is used for information that the speaker is certain about or has witnessed firsthand. The indirect marker is used for when the speaker is unsure of the information or when he has witnessed this second-hand. It is also used in questions in the past tense. Nota bene: this page is still under construction! Stay tuned for more!

I have also included a page devoted to Conversational Mi’gmaq. This page has the essentials of Mi’gmaq conversation, i.e. from hello/goodbye to what is your name/where are you from,  and how to respond to such questions. This page can be found from the main page of the wiki. This section, too, is still under construction. The intended use for this page is for those interested in getting a jump-start in their Mi’gmaq learning. Knowing these phrases will help anyone wanting to learn ‘nnueiei tli’suti [the Native language]! 

As the wiki is always under new developments, any suggestions, corrections or advice will always be greatly appreciated. So please do not hesitate to comment if you see any mistakes or if you would like to see a certain topic addressed!


Let’s Learn the Native Language – ‘Nnu’gina’masultinej!

MaryAnn just launched the Facebook page ‘Nnu’gina’masultinej. There are a wealth of references to help learners improve their Mi’gmaw. Pictures from her classroom as well as grammatical explanations will be updated throughout Mi’gmaw classes. Stay tuned for more information. We invite everyone to like and follow it! ‘Nnugina’masultinej!

LingSync database glossing conventions

Since we’re getting a lot of work done with the LingSync application* from the programming side of things, we decided it was high time we start using it the way it was intended to be used; as a database making it easier for us to share data and collaborate.

As we’ve started putting in data, we’ve been laying down some conventions for us to follow in the rest of the database. This blog seemed like a good place to discuss the conventions we’ve established, and an even better place to debate new conventions for areas we haven’t fully fleshed out yet (verbs…).

All of this information and more is stored also on the specific wiki page for LingSync glossing: http://wiki.migmaq.org/index.php?title=LingSync_Glosses

Our general guiding principles are as follow:

  • Gloss everything–no defaults!
    • This is mainly to make search easier and more intuitive. If we had, for instance, “animate” as the understood default person and only glossed inanimate morphology as such, it would be very difficult to get a datalist of all animate words. Having no default glossing means that all our glosses will be very explicit and therefore easy to search.
    • This will be painful at the start, but once we have enough data in there, LingSync will autogloss and make our lives much easier! Hang in there.
  • When in doubt, don’t parse it out!
    • Only separate morphemes if you and a collaborator are completely, 100% sure that they are separable. Make sure you pass your theory by someone else’s eyes first, too!
    • Feel free to use dots frequently in your glosses. It is safer, generally speaking, to group morphemes (and later split them up) than it is to be over-enthusiastic about splitting them up (and later having to go back and re-group).
  • In general, be faithful to the surface/pronounced form when drawing morpheme boundaries. (ie match the morpheme line to the utterance line as closely as possible)
    • Please use the Notes section to leave comments about phonology if you think there is a predictable process going on!
    • (One exception is the palatalization of ‘t’ at morpheme boundaries. Throughout LingSync we will assume that t -> j / _-i, so it is safe to have the utterance and morpheme lines different here.)

As far as specifics go, there is more information on the wiki page itself (WordPress hyperlinks seem broken, here’s the address again http://wiki.migmaq.org/index.php?title=LingSync_Glosses ).

Please use the comments to discuss…

  • Verbs! Since we are glossing with the maximal amount of information, including tense and mood (ie. present indicative), where should we put this information? So far we’ve been sticking it onto the end of the root using dots (ie. tli’ma-tis = tell.TA.PRES.IND-1SG>2SG). Any other suggestions for the placement of tense/aspect/mood?
  • Verbs part 2! How should we identify the difference between various evidentialities? And what about tense, aspect, mood? Right now we’re marking present indicative, imperative, future, evidential past, inferentialiOpen discussion in comments below!

*(The LingSync extension can be found here: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/lingsync/ocmdknddgpmjngkhcbcofoogkommjfoj )

An Update from iLanguage Lab Team

As many of you may know, we are building a database for all of our Mi’gmaq data! To those who do not…we are building a database! 

The big picture:
We have been working with iLanguage Lab LTD to create an open source (free!), easy to use app that will run online and offline. There are plenty of database applications out there, but they tend to be difficult to use and either run online OR offline (not both). The idea is to create something that will be used not only by linguists, but by whoever is interested in doing language research (for non-programmers by non-programmers). Thus, we are making the code for it as intuitive as possible, which will be easy to change and fit specific needs in the future. More features and other info here.
What do we mean by database? It will essentially be like Word or any other word processor, but more organized. We will have sessions, where data from elicitations can be entered directly into a series of fields (orthography, gloss, translation, etc.). Researchers and consultants will be able to collaborate with each other on projects in groups and will be able to have discussions via comments. Ultimately, it will be a place to store all of the data collected thus far in a way that is accessible to those involved in the project but also secure (maintaining consultant confidentiality and reducing the number of errors that inevitably occur during research). 
Why is this useful? It is organized and accessible, which is great for people trying to learn the language as well as for project purposes. The flexibility of the program will also allow linguists and speakers together to decide who has access to what data.

The nitty gritty:

So far the project is still in its skeletal stages (literally..we are using a JavaScript framework called ‘Backbone’). We have been working on things that are mostly ‘under the hood’ (things like defining what ‘Users’ are, how we want things to look, etc.) In addition, we have been running tests to make sure that the code we are writing is working. You can check out the progress by installing a google chrome extension called “Drag and Drop FieldLinguistics” (name to be changed soon) in the Chrome Web Store. The goal is to have most of these tests done by the end of this week so we can start building up to the ‘View’, which is what people will actually see when they use the app. The Beta Testing Target is July 1st 2012, at which point we will actually test out the finished app. 

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please feel free to post them here (or if you are technically oriented, you can post on the github project page: https://github.com/mecathcart/Drag-and-Drop-FieldLinguistics/issues/milestones)! We really hope that this will be used by people who have previously found themselves frustrated by the obscurity of other web applications.

Learn Mi’gmaq

The Jilaptoq Mi’kmaw Language Center has useful interactive Mi’gmaq talking language posters and sample audio files. Note that this orthography is different from the Listuguj orthography (the use of ‘k’) and some words may have slightly different meanings. For example in the verb conjugation poster the conjugated verb is mijisi- which means ‘to eat’, but this is not used in Listuguj because of its similarities with another verb. The word used in Listuguj meaning ‘to eat’ is miji-. Nevertheless, the posters give helpful lessons for those wishing to improve in Mi’gmaq. For a comparison of the Francis/Smith and Listuguj orthographies with their IPA equivalents check here. Here is an additional list of Mi’gmaq orthographies that include contemporary and prior orthographies from the Mi’kmaq Spirit website. Another dictionary for Mi’gmaq is the Rand Micmac Dictionary. Here are some basic phrases provided by Waycobah First Nation School in Nova Scotia.