News Article

SIL linguist honored by Linguistic Society of the Philippines

LSP President, Dr. Marilu R. Madrunio, presents the Gonzalez Distinguished Professorial Chair award to Dr. Hall. LSP President, Dr. Marilu R. Madrunio, presents the Gonzalez Distinguished Professorial Chair award to Dr. Hall.

(April 2011) Dr. William Hall (SIL International) presented the LSP 2011 Gonzalez Distinguished Professorial Chair Lecture: New Trends in Philippine Language Assessment and Documentation. The lecture, given at De La Salle University, Manila, on 15 April 2011, was sponsored by the Linguistic Society of the Philippines (LSP).

Dr. Hall reported on three Philippine language assessment projects recently carried out by teams from the Translators Association of the Philippines and SIL. The languages assessed included Kamayo (eastern Mindanao), Ayta Magbukun (Bataan Peninsula, Luzon), and Kalinga (northern Luzon). Hall, who serves as the Coordinator of Language Assessment and Documentation for SIL, described the assessment methods used (both traditional and participatory) and discussed preliminary findings. Also in focus were observations regarding how language assessment brings community attention to the realities of language shift issues; this often leads to opportunities to assist those communities concerned with preserving and developing their own languages.

Dr. Hall with members of the Philippine language assessment team Dr. Hall with members of the Philippine language assessment team

Over the years, Philippine languages have been extensively investigated and surveyed. At present, 171 indigenous Philippine languages are listed in the Ethnologue. Many of these languages are vulnerable to language shift and ultimately dying out as their speakers use them less and less. However, in light of a resurgence of interest in and focus on the indigenous languages, SIL and partner organizations are interested in assessing the status of some of these language groups with regard to language vitality, general bilingual abilities, the language community’s viability and possible interest in language development programs.

The Linguistic Society of the Philippines (LSP) was founded in 1969 to lead in the advancement of the scientific study of language in the Philippine context. The LSP facilitates research on Philippine languages and participates in formulation of language policy in the Philippines (most recently, the Multilingual Education and Literacy Act of 2010). The LSP also sponsors a variety of training opportunities and publishes the Philippine Journal of Linguistics (PJL).

Bro. Andrew Gonzalez, FSC, (1940-2006) was the Executive Secretary of the LSP for seventeen years and editor of the PJL for twenty-one years. He was long associated with De La Salle University, Manila, as Academic Vice-President and President. Through his initiative many of the research and training programs of the LSP got underway.

SIL is committed to partnership with language communities, providing knowledge about language and culture to help communities make decisions and plan how they want their language developed. Language assessment and documentation is a key activity in this process.

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