Monthly Archives: May 2007

UNESCO World Language Documentation Centre Opens

On May 9th, UNESCO officially launched the World Language Documentation Centre.  While the WLDC has a mission broadly defined as “championing linguistic research and facilitating the needs of linguistic communities”, they initially seem to be focused primarily on promoting multilingualism in cyberspace. The OmegaWiki  is an example of the type of initiative in which they are currently involved. The prime sponsor of the WLDC is GeoLang (the successor to Linguishphere) who is the registration authority for the ISO 639-6 database. (The ISO 639-6 standard is a system for identifying not only languages, but also variants within each language.) Continue reading

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Online Tajik and Pashto lessons!

The Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region at Indiana University has just made on-line reading and listening lessons in Tajiki, Pashto, Mongolian, and Uyghur freely available via their Intermediate Level Reading and Listening Project.
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Everyday Islam–Soviet Anthropologist on Central Asia « Birds’ Books

 Jamela just posted a review of Everyday Islam, a book by a soviet anthropoligist about the tenacity of tradition and failure of sovietization in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. You can read it here:

Everyday Islam–Soviet Anthropologist on Central Asia « Birds’ Books

Iranians and Americans pursue friendship in spite of politics

The headline of this news article, “Unlikely Ties Connect Iran and Portland, Oregon” , instantly caught my attention since so much of my life was shaped by my encounters with Iranians and the Persian language when I lived in Portland. Many of the Iranian-American ties described by Steve Holgate in this article were familiar to me, and some were new. Here are some of the new developments he describes: Continue reading

Notes on Functional Linguistics

I mentioned in a previous post that the department of linguistics at the University of Oregon, where I study, is a “bastion of functional linguistics”. So, what is functional linguistics?

Those who call themselves “Functional Linguists” differ on many aspects of linguistic theory, but the one central principle they all share is the answer to the question “What constitutes a satisfactory explanation for the observable facts about language?”Functional explanations are based on communicative function. Languages around the world are in some ways very similar and in other ways radically different because they have been shaped by differing social, and historical processes, but for the one universal purpose of communication based on human cognition. This is in contrast to a formalist explanation that seeks to explain observable (surface) facts about language in terms of a deeper (underlying) level of language. Continue reading