International Workshop on Resources and Tools in Field Linguistics

Motivation and Aims

There is general recognition that many of the world's languages are rapidly losing speakers. This constitutes loss of a rich cultural heritage, a loss which future generations will deeply regret. Considerable efforts have been made to halt this decline and revitalize these languages; but the decline of these languages is now so far advanced that a majority of presently existing languages will become extinct within this century. If this heritage is to be preserved in any sense, then there must be a serious effort towards documenting and archiving linguistic data on these languages, so that reconstruction of the essentials of such languages is possible in posterity, along with the living cultural environment in which they presently function.

The urgency of this task has changed the direction of field linguistics, and imposed on it completely new requirements. The highest priority can no longer be placed upon the simple publication of field-work, even when based on careful, in-depth analysis of linguistic phenomena. To preserve as much as possible of the cultural heritage of these languages, we need instead multimedia recordings, which are accompanied by carefully designed linguistic annotations. And we must utilize for this purpose technologies which guarantee long-term access to all the many facets of the material. In addition, the advent of the World-Wide-Web requires that the archived resources be available in new ways, and in conformance with the most widely adopted emergent standards. If this effort is to be successful, it must also include good relations with the members of the indigenous communities which provide the data, and a close cooperation between linguists and the engineers who provide the technology.

A number of important new initiatives, for example AILLA, DOBES, E-MELD, LACITO, and ASEDA, have begun work along these lines. There also exist other institutions, such as the Max Plank Institute for Psycholinguistics, which began still earlier the task of storing valuable recordings, and their accompanying added linguistic value.

The workshop will be held as a pre-conference workshop of LREC 2002, which has expanded its scope to include field linguistics. We expect to have special sessions at the conference dedicated to the special needs and problems of field linguistics. LREC is unique amongst conferences world-wide, in that it brings together experts of diverse expertise, who both create and maintain language resources. The LREC announcement text indicates that the conference has an extended scope and a broad view of what constitutes language resources. In addition, the LREC conference includes exhibitions and training courses, which we expect participants of the proposed workshop would find very useful indeed.

As part of the LREC conference, the primary goal of the workshop is dedicated to structural and technological issues involved in language documentation including its cultural background, and in ways of accessing archived data. Deeper linguistic aspects of the documentation endeavor and its attendant legal and ethical aspects can only be touched briefly. We mention here a few keywords which indicate the scope of the workshop:

The workshop will be organized so as to provide time for large projects to inform interested researchers about the methods they use and their experiences so far. It will further provide time and space for other projects to describe how they document languages. Panel and discussion sessions will allow interested researchers to raise questions and comment on the methods chosen.
The goals of the workshop are:

  1. To improve our understanding of the methods to be applied when documenting language data, with a special focus on languages which are in danger of becoming extinct;
  2. To discuss methods which have already been applied by different projects and which hold promise.

Workshop Organizers

Peter Austin Melbourne University (Australia)
Helen Dry Eastern Michigan University (USA)
Peter Wittenburg Max-Planck-Institute for Psycholinguistics (The Netherlands)

Important Dates

Abstract submissions15th February 2002
Notification of acceptance15th March 2002
Final versions12th April 2002
Workshop26th & 27th May 2002

Abstract Submission

Submitted abstracts should consist of about 400 words. The abstracts should be submitted electronically as PDF, PS, RTF, or plain text files to the following address: The deadline for submitting the abstracts is February 15th. The notification of acceptance will be sent by March 15th 2002.

Paper Submissions and Proceedings

There is one month between the notification of acceptance and submission of a workshop paper. Papers have to be submitted electronically to the same address ( as PDF, PS, RTF, or plain text files. There will be proceedings of this workshop which will be made available free to all participants at the beginning of the workshop.

For all questions with respect to the content of this workshop, please send emails to . Since this workshop will be embedded in the LREC conference, all emails with respect to organizational and financial questions can be addressed to the official LREC email address as well:
For current information about the workshop see:

Workshop Registration Fees

The registration fees for the workshop are:

The first day of the workshop will be supported by funds from ISLE and DOBES. The fees cover a copy of the proceedings.

Program Committee

Anthony Aristar
Peter Austin
Steven Bird
Bernard Comrie
Helen Dry
Arienne Dwyer
Dafydd Gibbon
Nikolaus Himmelmann
Terry Langendoen
Stephen Levinson
Kazuto Matsumura
Patrick McConvell
Tony McEnery
Boyd Michailovsky
Ulrike Mosel
Peter Muysken
David Nash
David Nathan
Randy LaPolla
Hans-Jürgen Sasse
Gunter Senft
Gary Simons
Peter Wittenburg