Newsletter March 2021

Dear Relational Lexicography Partners, Collaborators and Affiliates, 

We hope this email finds you well, especially considering the turmoil we have all faced this last year. Despite these challenges, the Relational Lexicography team has continued to make progress on our various sub-projects. We are writing with a progress report and to share several recent developments with you.

Welcomes and Farewells

Research Assistants. Sarina recently graduated from UBC-O with a Bachelor’s in Anthropology and is working to develop the online interface of our knowledgebase (details below). Aiyana is a double Major in FNEL and Anthropology at UBC-V and is helping identify groups and people who may be interested in completing our survey (details below). We say farewell to Undergraduate Research Assistant Ben Chung who recently graduated UBC-V with a Bachelor’s in FNEL and is working for the First Peoples’ Cultural Council as a Language Programs Assistant. We are also very grateful to Jocelyn Boonstra for assisting our partners at Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn with transcription of their language documentation work last spring. 

We are also excited to welcome several UBC colleagues and staff members to our team, including Reference Librarian, Susan Atkey, as Librarian Liaison to the project and Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology staff Will Engle and Rie Namba as Open Education Strategist and Educational Resources Developer, respectively. 

We are thrilled to welcome two Affiliated Researchers, whose lexicographical research and investment in critical dictionary work strongly align with the goals of our project: Dr. Wenge Chen from National Huaqiao University and Dr. Patricia Anderson.

New Community Partner - Selkirk First Nation

We are thrilled that Selkirk First Nation (SFN) became one of our community partners in August 2020. When it is safe and possible to do so, we look forward to working with Language Coordinator, April Baker, Heritage Manager, Teri-Lee Isaac, and other SFN citizens to support their important work updating and expanding the existing Northern Tutchone dictionary in the Selkirk and/or Pelly dialect.

Project Updates

We recently launched an Online Survey asking about people’s work on community-based dictionary projects for Indigenous and other historically-marginalized languages in North America (and beyond). You can find the link to our survey on our website. We are pleasantly surprised to report that 140 people have already completed the survey. Please consider completing the survey yourself, if you have not done so already, and sharing it with anyone you think would be interested in sharing their experiences in developing or using community-based dictionaries. The survey results will help us to identify the types of dictionary-related resources that people would find useful and that we could develop in the future. 

To learn more about the survey, you might like to watch a 20-minute video presentation about the survey that Mark, Christine and Julia recently presented at the International Conference of Language Documentation and Conservation. The presentation is titled Surveying community-based dictionary creators to develop a Relational Lexicography toolkit and framework and focuses on the first 50 survey responses. 

We are also working to develop an online searchable and browsable Relational Lexicography Knowledgebase of print and online dictionaries of Indigenous and historically-marginalized languages in North America. To date, Meryl and Ben have identified and scoped over 750 dictionaries. With the support of Will Engle and Rie Namba, Sarina is currently building the online knowledgebase on our website. We will let you know once the knowledgebase is live, and in the meantime you can checkout the public Relational Lexicography Knowledgebase Wiki page, which will house all the knowledgebase entries (on the backend) as we develop a front-end interface using WordPress.

To learn more about the first stage of our scoping of dictionaries and developing the knowledgebase, you might enjoy a 20-minute video presentation that Vicki, Ben and Meryl recently gave at the International Conference of Language Documentation and Conservation. The presentation is titled Resources for Reclamation: Creating a Relational Dictionary Knowledgebase.

Future Steps

We will continue to share our survey online and through social media (please do consider helping), develop the knowledgebase and identify additional resources that we can work to develop. 

Once it is safe to do so, we will restart our in-person work with our community partners, Splatsin Tsm7aksaltn and Selkirk First Nation, to support and learn from their community-driven dictionary projects. 

When feasible, we hope to have another in-person team meeting to share preliminary research outputs, celebrate community-based dictionary work, seek feedback and develop plans for the future. Depending on the speed of the vaccine rollout, this gathering could be in person, virtual or hybrid (part in person, part virtual). 

We look forward to sharing occasional updates with you as we go. Thank you for being a part of this project and of our ever-expanding team.

With kind wishes,

Mark, Christine and Vicki