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Pike Center awards first grants

Through its Small Grants Program, the Pike Center sponsors research and publication that address issues faced by language communities on the margins of society. We are pleased to announce the results of the very first cycle of applications to this program. Funding has been awarded to the two proposals that emerged as the most highly rated in the peer review process.

$3,000 has been awarded to David Eberhard and Scott Smith for a project on “Documenting Case Studies in Community-Based Language and Identity Development.” A Guide for Planning the Future of Our Language describes a method for engaging with language communities to help them assess the vitality of their language and their felt needs for language development. (It is based on the Sustainable Use Model, which was developed by two Fellows of the Pike Center.)The method (with variations) has been applied in over a hundred situations around the world, but never have case studies been collected that document what has been happening. The grantees will conduct two symposia, one in Africa and one in Asia (with matching funds from the SIL offices that will host the two events), in which practitioners who have been applying the method will present and discuss their case studies, which will then be prepared for publication using Pike Center’s Agile Publishing platform. The resulting case studies should prove significant in informing future practitioners of the strengths and weaknesses of the method in various contexts and in guiding further development of the model. Eberhard is currently General Editor of Ethnologue and holds a PhD in Linguistics from Vrije Universiteit (Amsterdam). Scott Smith serves with SIL as Regional Manager for Equatorial Guinea and holds a DEA in Applied Linguistics from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.

$1,500 has been awarded to Cathryn Yang for a research planning project on “Documentation of Lolopo Yi Oral Literature.” The Lolopo are a people of China who number about 380,000. While the language is still being transmitted to the younger generation, much of its oral literature is not. Added to this is the fact that currently very little documentation exists of this oral art. Unless efforts are taken to preserve it while the elders who know it are still living, Lolopo oral literature will soon be irrevocably lost to its speakers and to wider humanity, forever. In the proposed project, many performances of Lolopo oral art will be recorded, annotated (via transcription, translation, and other commentary), archived, and shared with the Lolopo community and the world. The grant from Pike Center will support the preliminary investigation that is needed in order to prepare a compelling grant proposal for a full-scale project to document Lolopo oral literature that will be submitted to a major foundation. Cathryn Yang currently teaches linguistics as part of SIL Yunnan's partnership with the Institute for Sino-Tibetan Language Studies in Chenggong, China; she holds a PhD in Linguistics from La Trobe University (Melbourne).

The Small Grants Program makes awards three times per year, with the submission deadline for grant applications being January 10, May 10, and September 10. Contact grants@pikecenter.org for more information.

Gary Simons