LINGUIST List 13.561

Thu Feb 28 2002

FYI: Endangered Langs, NLP Fall School

Editor for this issue: Marie Klopfenstein <>


  1. Steven Bird, Africa: Local languages under threat (IRIN News)
  2. Sandra Kuebler, Fall School: Empirical Linguistics and Natural Language Processing

Message 1: Africa: Local languages under threat (IRIN News)

Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 10:46:10 EST
From: Steven Bird <>
Subject: Africa: Local languages under threat (IRIN News)

From: IRIN <>
To: Steven Bird <>
Date: Thu, 21 Feb 2002 13:02:35 GMT
Subject: AFRICA: Local languages under threat

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN)

AFRICA: Local languages under threat

ADDIS ABABA, 21 February (IRIN) - Almost half the languages spoken in the
world are under threat, with Africa one of the hardest-hit continents,
according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation

Africa - linguistically the least known continent - is one of most
affected, where 250 languages could be lost for ever. And of the 1,400
languages - used by the continent's 700 million-strong population - at
least 500 are on the decline.

According to UNESCO, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan face the
most serious problems, and have been designated "crisis areas". "They are
crisis areas which have the most moribund or seriously endangered tongues,"
a spokesman for UNESCO said in a statement released in the Ethiopian
capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday.

UNESCO argues that some African countries encourage major languages like
Swahili, or even colonial languages like French and English, which then
threaten local tongues. A community's language is defined by experts to be
endangered when at least 30 percent of its children no longer speak it.

Often economic and social factors can threaten local languages as people
leave their communities to look for work. Their environments can also be
threatened, so villagers and their language are dispersed. Linguists argue
that a native language helps preserve the culture of communities, as well
as providing the building blocks of life.

"At least 3,000 tongues are endangered, seriously endangered or dying in
many parts of the world," the UNESCO spokesman stressed. "About half of the
6,000 or so languages spoken in the world are under threat. Over the past
three centuries, languages have died out and disappeared at a dramatic and
steadily increasing pace, especially in the Americas and Australia."

"But an endangered, moribund or even extinct language can be saved through
a determined language policy," he added. "Sometimes languages that have
actually died out have been 'raised from the dead', such as Cornish, in
England, which became extinct in 1777, but has been revived in recent
years, with nearly 1,000 people now speaking it as a second language."

UNESCO has released an atlas highlighting the "World's Languages in Danger
of Disappearing". The maps have been launched to coincide with
International Mother Language Day - marked on 21 February.


[This Item is Delivered to the "Africa-English" Service of the UN's IRIN
humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views
of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or 
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Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2002

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Message 2: Fall School: Empirical Linguistics and Natural Language Processing

Date: Tue, 26 Feb 2002 19:33:15 +0100
From: Sandra Kuebler <>
Subject: Fall School: Empirical Linguistics and Natural Language Processing

 Fall School 2002 in Sozopol, Bulgaria 
 Empirical Linguistics and Natural Language Processing.


International Doctoral Program in Empirical Linguistics and Natural
Language Processing is inviting applications to a fall school in
Sozopol, Bulgaria, this fall.

Dates: September 9th - 20th 2002 (days of arrival and departure)

Place: Resort town of Sozopol (Black Sea), Bulgaria

Language: English


Participants should be doctoral students who research the interfaces
between Computational Linguistics, Corpus Linguistics and formal
approaches to grammar. In exceptional cases, postdoctoral researchers
as well as outstanding students in the final year of masters level
studies who intend to pursue a doctorate will also be considered. The
fall school is limited to 24 students. Admission to the school is
competitive and is based on the research interests of the applicants
and the perceived benefits of these interests to the school as a
whole. Participants must be proficient in English.


The Volkswagen-Foundation will provide stipends for participants from
Central and Eastern Europe. This will comprise travel costs (up to 400
Euro), and room and board for the duration of the fall school. In
special circumstances, students may apply for additional support with
travel costs.


Participants who are not sponsored by a Volkswagen-Foundation stipend
should anticipate approximately Euro 90 for room and board per
day. Costs for transportation to and from the fall school are not
included in this estimate.


Applications with a completely filled in registration form (available
from, a curriculum vita,
and a short (maximum three pages) summary of relevant past and present
research and education must be submitted to the Office of the
International Centre at Tuebingen by April 1st 2002. Applicants should
indicate whether they are applying for a stipend.

Stipend applications must include a letter of recommendation with
their application.

Internationales Zentrum fuer Wissenschaftliche Zusammenarbeit
Universitaet Tuebingen
Keplerstr. 17
D - 72074 Tuebingen
Tel.: (0049) 7071 / 29 - 77352 or /29 - 74156
Fax: (0049) 7071 / 29 5989

Content and Goals

Corpus Linguistics is of increasing importance in Computational
Linguistics and related research areas. Located at the interface of
machine-based Natural Language Processing and Empirical Linguistics
(which is concerned with the structure of particular languages), the
increasing importance of Corpus Linguistics is mainly due to its
contribution to practical applications in Computational
Linguistics. Currently, initiatives in Corpus Linguistics exist in
practically all European countries, and it is particularly worth
stressing the significant advances in Eastern and Central European
countries in this area.

The international doctoral program "Empirical Linguistics and Natural
Language Processing" aims at bringing together a larger group of PhD
students from Eastern and Central European countries who are concerned
with questions of Computational Linguistics and of adjacent
disciplines, and providing intensive support for a small group of PhD

Preliminary Course Program

Erhard Hinrichs, T´┐Żbingen: Computational Tools for Corpus Linguistics
Tilman Berger, T´┐Żbingen: Corpus-Based Investigation of Issues in
Marek Swidzinski, Warsaw: Formal Description of Polish in the
 Grammar Formalism. 
Adam Przepiorkowski, Warsaw: Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar for
Kiril Simov, Sofia: XML-based Corpus Linguistics. 
Vladimir Petkevic, Prague: Morphological and Syntactic Tagging of
Anatolij N. Baranov, Moscow: Applications of Text Corpora to

Student Sessions 

Student sessions of the fall school will provide participants a chance
to discuss their current work with lecturers and other participants of
the school.

Contact for further information:

Kiril Ivanov Simov (Sofia):
Julia Trushkina (Tuebingen):

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