Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Archive receives NSF grant for audio collection

The Archive was recently awarded a nearly $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to support development of digital access to over 2000 Alaska Native language interview tapes recorded under the 1971 Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and another 2000 plus recordings selected from the 5000 held by the Alaska Native Language Archive. Represented in the collection are all of the Alaska Native languages and because most of the collection was recorded in the 1960's and 1970's with some as early as the 1940's, the tapes represent the languages spoken prior to subsequent erosion or language shift to English. No other collection represents this diversity of language, nor the diversity of speech of Alaskan Native languages that these two collections capture. Because the recordings are on analog tapes, they are at serious risk of deterioration and loss. Digitizing the collection will not only preserve it but the project also will increase access, especially for speech communities and heritage learners, to the language materials - which are presently accessible only by traveling to Anchorage or Fairbanks and listening to them in their current archive storage facilities. (NSF grant #0957136)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

IPY grant receives supplement

The IPY Documenting Alaskan and Neighboring Languages project has received supplemental funding from the National Science Foundation. Under the leadership of PI Michael Krauss, the additional funding will support two new documentation efforts.

The first part of the project will digitize, process and publish Siberian Yupik texts collected in 1940-1941 by Rubstova and kept in manuscript form in the archives of Institute for Linguistic Research, Russian Academy of Sciences, in St. Petersburg. The texts give priceless data on the now extinct dialectal differences unparalleled in the published materials. The project will help return to the Yupik communities of both Chukotka and Alaska part of the heritage of their ancestors, and will contribute to language preservation and revival.

The second part of the project will transcribe and translate recordings made with the last speakers of Alaskan Sami. In 1980 Pekka Sammallahti, of University of Oulu, Finland, taped interviews in Sami with the last two Alaskan speakers of that language: Mary Barr of Unalakleet, born in Alaska; and Clement Sara of Bethel. These interviews contain not only the only recordings we have of Alaskan Sami speech, but important accounts of that colorful chapter in Alaskan history.