SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Development of electronic language corpus and pedagogical support materials: Guernsey, Channel Islands

There may only be 2-300 (mainly elderly) remaining fluent speakers of
Dgernesiais, the indigenous language of Guernsey, Channel Islands, categorized by the 2009 UNESCO Atlas as ‘severely endangered’. Negative ideologies which contributed to endangerment have softened, resulting in a desire for language revitalisation. However, an obstacle is the lack of published pedagogical materials; whilst some exist, they are limited, not corpus-based and contain inaccuracies.

Learners increasingly express the need for an updated dictionary containing a guide to pronunciation; the existing ‘heritage’ dictionary does not provide this as it is not aimed at learners. Furthermore, it is not corpus-based, contains inconsistencies and is out of print. We will research the needs of learners and integrate these with the analysis of data (existing recordings & texts) in order to develop a reliable corpus, support language revitalisation and respond to learners’ needs, e.g. through the compilation of thematic bilingual mini- dictionaries, incorporating multimedia for pronunciation guidance. 

This project, which runs from April 2012 to March 2014, is funded by a British Academy Small Grant (SG112592).