Our Goals

Our goal is for this project to have made theoretical and practical contributions to the field of language revitalization. We will produce an open access framework and toolkit of reference materials and resources that can be used to undertake relationally-engaged lexicography. In addition, we will advance the field of traditional lexicography to embrace new audiences and stakeholders beyond the academy.

Noting the growing number of language revitalization projects and moves towards Indigenous language legislation in Canada, this research initiative harnesses the creative power of dictionaries to explore three features and four practices specific to under-resourced and Indigenous languages.

Such languages are often limited by:

  • smaller vocabularies
  • fewer speakers
  • specific and complex grammatical structures.
  • A ‘Relational Lexicography’ in support of marginalized languages needs to include:

  • nuanced understandings of partnership and collaboration
  • more egalitarian models of authorship and authority
  • greater recognition of the role that archival recordings and heritage language resources can play
  • diverse outputs that include mobile Apps, online platforms, talking dictionaries and pedagogical resources produced by language communities themselves.
  • Our methods for establishing these features and practices are varied.

  • First, through video conferencing, we will form a network of researchers engaged in dictionary projects for Indigenous languages across Canada, including speakers, language researchers, archivists and software developers.
  • Second, drawing on our existing partnerships, we will refine the proposed features and practices through community-based discussions with partners currently engaged in dictionary-making projects.
  • Third, to better understand the scope of dictionary work for Indigenous languages across the continent, we will design and distribute online surveys to groups actively pursuing such projects. A comprehensive review of the existing literature on language revitalization and lexicography provides our theoretical baseline, and combines with a critical assessment of existing digital dictionary tools to serve as the foundation for our framework and toolkit.