What work can I do without a linguist?

If you want to get started by yourself, the advice provided in some of the other questions on this page will assist: e.g. on recording equipment, software, how to set up a language program, and who to talk to about endangered languages.

We advise that training is very important to ensure the best possible language documentation or revitalization outcomes. A number of the training programs discussed on this site have been developed with a focus on the needs and goals of community language activists.

Advice and/or professional assistance from linguists can assist in the success of your project.

If you are working with a group or as part of a language community, it's important to be very clear about your goals (see the question on "How can I set up a language program?"). You might start by brainstorming ideas.

Here are some possible projects:

  • making recordings of language speakers
  • writing new songs in the language
  • making resources (e.g. story books, animations, a wordlist)
  • language awareness classes (building general knowledge about the language and languages to which it is related)
  • language learning classes
  • publishing (e.g. comics, novels, newspapers)

Think about the following practical issues:

  • Where will it be held?
  • How often will it happen (once, regularly?)?
  • Who are we aiming this towards?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What materials do we need to develop?
  • Who will do this and how?
  • Where can we look for funding?

Think about the following personnel issues:

  • Who needs to be involved in the different language activities?
  • What kinds of people do we need to work with?
  • Do we need a language speaker or language teacher? Where can we find one?
  • Do we need a linguist? What tasks might a linguist help us with? Where can we find one?
  • What might their roles be?
  • What other people can help us learn more about our language and culture? For example: other people who may not be language speakers, but who have lived or studied in the community
  • Do we want to include people from other language groups?