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!

Lab meeting (Nov 22, 2013)

This week in our Montreal lab meeting, we talked about…

  • LingSync: the new website is up! It’ll grow and change a bit in the near future, but the groundwork is there at least. Also, the McGill server has been updated and configured so that it works better with LingSync.
  • The potential of a trip to Listuguj. Hopefully Mike and maybe a couple others will be able to come out to visit, either in December or early next year.
  • Aboriginal Languages Initiative grant workshop: I had the chance to attend a workshop on Wednesday morning that walked me through the general information needed to make a strong grant application for ALI support. If anyone is interested, I could make a blog post summing up the main points–let me know in comments, or by email.

Thanks for reading, have a good week!

Lab Meeting (Nov 15, 2013)

Another week, another lab meeting! This week we touched on the research everyone is doing right now, checking in to see what the plans are for the coming weeks and months:

  • Yuliya and Carol might start looking at connectives (and, or, but, also) in Mi’gmaq, based a little on Sarah Murray’s presentation from the Algonquian Conference on the Cheyenne connective “na.”
  • Elizabeth is doing some background reading on Mi’gmaq. It was recommended that she watch the Listuguj “Finding our Talk” episode, and read the first chapters of Inglis’s 2002 thesis.
  • Richard would like to start looking at adjectives with Janine. (He also found a “switch reference” article from 1901!)
  • Gretchen is continuing to work on her thesis, concentrating on verbal affixes.

Lab Meeting (Nov 8, 2013)

The Montreal group has started having weekly lab meetings! We’ll be keeping track roughly of the things we talk about and posting them here, tagged “lab meeting”. Last Friday, among other things, we talked about…

  • Intro to Algonquian readings: Heather Newell and Lizzie Carolan were looking for some introductory readings on Algonquian linguistics. We shared a number of PDFs with them (no particular ones singled out as recommendations), and also pointed them to the project wiki.
  • Fixing up the wiki: Since we’ve got some fresh eyes on it, we thought it might be a good time soon to update the wiki! Mike’s going to be writing some sections in his dissertation that will serve as a quick Mi’gmaq Linguistics 101, and he was suggesting that as he writes those up, he can also do corresponding sections in the wiki.
  • Elise and Yuliya data chat: We’ve been doing joint sessions with Janine for the last couple weeks, and we wanted to talk with everyone about the things we were learning! We have a very rough handout that we discussed, but it was full of mistakes so we’ll hang on to it for now. The general gist was that we were looking at phrases ending in -ewei, -ewe’g, and so on, and seeing how they can look sort of like nouns but also sort of like verbs!

Elise, Mike, Erin, and Carol go to Listuguj

From April 16th to 19th, Elise, Mike, Erin, and Carol went to Listuguj to talk about the future endeavours of the Mi’gmaq Research Partnership. Mike collected Mi’gmaw data for his work with the help of many patient and diligent Listuguj Education Directorate collaborators. Elise, Carol, and Erin discussed further developments for digital supports, resources, references for the Mi’gmaw language classes taught at the LED. These digital supports will enable learners to practice Mi’gmaw remotely. Resources like the wiki page are readily available to those wishing to know more of the structure of the language. One digital support, CAN 8, has already been implemented in Mi’gmaw classes in the region. The McGill collaborators visited Sugarloaf Senior High School where CAN 8 is being used in the Mi’gmaw classroom. The students gave positive feedback about this program.

Carol will have the opportunity to work further on projects like CAN 8 as well as continuing to collaborate with LED teachers for course curricula documentation on site this summer. Elise will also be making trips to Listuguj working on digital supports as well as references and resources for learners and speakers alike.

In May, many members of the Mi’gmaq Research Partnership (MRP) will be going to the L’nui’sultinej Conference in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. There will be an hour long workshop on Student Perspectives on Mi’gmaq Language-Learning through Multi-Modal Teaching given by members of the MRP discussing how linguists, learners, and speakers can collaborate inside and outside of the language classroom. See Elise’s post for more information.

Mid-November Update

It’s been pretty quiet on the blog for the last little while, but that’s not because we’re working less on the project! We’ve been working a whole lot on a big aspect of our Mi’gmaq Research Partnership: specifically, trying to get money.

This past month, we’ve been working on our application for a grant. It’s allowed us to get a good look at the different strengths and goals of this project, and we’ve begun to get very excited about the coming work! Turns out, we’re doing good work, and there are a whole lot of interesting areas for our project to grow and explore.

  • LingSync application/Chrome extension. This is a really exciting application (at least, exciting for linguists) which will let us store, organise, and selectively share our language data (with encryption on all of it for the sake of our speakers’ privacy). Right now, we’re working with iLanguage on building on the existing code. On our to-do list is…
    • Making a Conversation! LingSync expects people to enter data as single lines, unconnected to each other. What we’d like to do is add another level, which lets users add conversations, dialogues, and discourse so that the separate lines of data are linked to each other just like speakers connect to each other in real life.
  • Mobile language-learning app. We’ve got (very rough) Android and Chrome extension prototypes for this already, and have a lot of ideas about where it’s going to go from here. The parts that we want to focus on the most are…
    •  its online/offline abilities, since a lot of language-learning apps work best online and have very limited offline capabilities
    • its tool for also letting students build their own lessons! Most language lessons are “read-only”, and students are expected to consume what is put on their app and be satisfied with that. But what we want to do is let students create material with speakers in their lives, and tailor their app to their own needs.
  • Master-Apprentice program. This is my favourite part of this project right now. It’s a wonderful opportunity for learners of Mi’gmaq to get some support and guidance, and partner one-on-one with fluent speakers. Again, get in touch with Vicky or look at an older blog post for more details about it!
One last thing we are looking forward to: two of our members (Carol and me, Elise) are lucky to say that they’re going to Hawai’i in late February for the 3rd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation! We’ll be presenting a poster version of the talk that we gave with Mary-Beth Wysote and Sarah Vicaire for the Algonquian Conference last month, based on the slides here.

Wiki update

The wiki has grown a lot since we first started it in March. There are currently 41 articles, including several overview pages (Main Page, Background, Verbs, Nouns) and several style pages (Style Guide, Glosses, How to do Citations, Wiki Gloss Extension) and many other pages that describe various aspects of the language. Thanks to everyone for your hard work on this so far!

A few summary page links that might be useful to editors/contributors: List of All Existing Pages, List of Most-Wanted Pages, Recent Changes.

But it doesn’t end here! Some of these existing pages need to have more content into them, and we have many ideas for other pages. Here’s a preliminary list — let us know in the comments if you have more ideas or can volunteer to write one of these.

  • Expanding the VAI, VII, VTA, VTI pages
  • Expanding “Pronouns” and “Questions”
  • Mood
  • Pronunciation Differences (between Mi’gmaq and English)
  • Schwa
  • Word Order
  • Dialect Differences (varieties of Mi’gmaq)
  • Medials, Finals
  • Prepositions
  • Adjectives/modification

This is also a reminder to everyone to check out the wiki and feel free to edit typos, sentence phrasing, explanations, make new pages, or anything else. If you don’t have an account already, you’ll need to ask me (Gretchen) or Mike to set one up for you, but this is not difficult and we are happy to do so.

Some website changes

There’ve been a couple small changes to this site–

1) anybody can now post a comment, but if they aren’t logged in then they have to do a CAPTCHA to be able to post. If you are logged in but the CAPTCHA is appearing anyway, please let me (Elise) know, and I can change the settings again to try to fix that.

2) only people with accounts can edit the wiki. To get an account, just email wiki@migmaq.org , and Gretchen will set you up with one!

3) we’re making a name for ourselves! Choose the name you like best, or suggest something new in the comments below.

ETA: The votes are in! This post declares us the Mi’gmaq Research Partnership, barring any strong objections.

What should we call ourselves?

44th Algonquian Conference, call for papers

The call has been posted for the 44th Algonquian Conference, which will be held at the University of Chicago’s Gleacher Center, in downtown Chicago, October 25-28, 2012.

This conference is an international meeting for researchers to present papers on Algonquian peoples. Fields of interest include anthropology, archaeology, art, education, ethnography, ethnobotany, folklore, geography, history, language education, linguistics, literature, music, native studies, political science, psychology, religion and sociology.

We invite proposals in English, French, or any Algonquian language for papers in all areas of Algonquian research. Graduate students are encouraged to apply. Presentations will be 20 minutes long followed by a 10-minute question period. Abstracts should be no more than 300 words in length, excluding title and references.

The deadline for abstract submission is September 1st. Details for how to submit are here. Please note that this is not a linguistics-specific conference. We could, for example, think about putting together a collaborative CAN-8 related abstract. Something to keep in mind this summer!