Today I’m going to put grammar aside for a post and share some good news; I’ve been given some money by some awesome people to do some awesome work. As I talked about a month or two ago, I’ve recently published a short dictionary of Lamjung Yolmo, which is an affordable and effective way to reach both the speakers of the language, and the wider population. Thanks to the Ottawa branch of the Awesome Foundation I now have a grand to start a similar project with a neighbouring language.
One of the most important things to learn about going on fieldwork is to go with the flow. The zen of fieldwork is often just to stop you fretting about what you can’t change, but it can also lead you to some interesting places, and this was one of those occasions. On my first field trip I met some speakers of the language Kagate, and spent a bit of time with them. Kagate has probably fewer than a thousand speakers, and a single copy of a typewritten dictionary made by some linguists who came to visit in the 1970s. My friend Mos and I have helped digitise this dictionary, but it’s fairly basic and there are so many ways we can make it better.
Fortunately, one of the younger speakers of the language is computer literate - and this is where the Awesome foundation comes in. Now we have the money to buy a computer and camera for our Kagate speaking friend, and give him the training and support he needs to be able to grow this project in the direction he and the other speakers choose. It’s an interesting model, and certainly very different to my experiences with the Lamjung Yolmo dictionary, where I worked with mostly illiterate or semi-literate speakers.
Like most small projects, I’m sure it will take a while, but I’m excited that we now have something to start with. It can be hard when documenting a language other than English to convince English speakers that they have a privileged position and that we are losing so much amazing linguistic diversity without even creating a written record of it. So thanks to the Awesome Foundation’s Ottawa team for seeing the merit in this project. We wish there were more fabulous people like you!
The Awesome Foundation certainly live up to their name - they give small grants to people with big ideas.You can check out the organisation here, and check out what else the lovely people of Ottawa have supported here.