Projects

Projects hosted by The LINGUIST List

Hilaria Cruz at LINGUIST List

We at the LINGUIST List are always happy to collaborate with fellow scholars on our projects. We were lucky to host Dr. Hilaria Cruz, a researcher and speaker of Chatino, for a week while she worked on creating a spoken corpus of the language for an ongoing project. If you’re interested in collaborating on spoken corpora with us, please contact us!

Dr. Cruz at LINGUIST List

Hilaria Cruz is a linguist and a native speaker of San Juan Quiahije (SJQ) Chatino, an endangered Zapotecan language, spoken in the mountains of Oaxaca, Mexico. She has been documenting and revitalizing the Chatino languages since 2003. Hilaria founded the Chatino Language Documentation Project (CLDP) together with her sister Emiliana Cruz (now an assistant professor at UMass Amherst), and their advisor Tony Woodbury of The University of Texas at Austin.

The CLDP aims to carry out linguistic documentation projects and research integrating the advancement of linguistic science with the wishes of the Chatino people to promote and honor their language. During the course of Hilaria’s fieldwork on Chatino, she has personally collected and archived more than one hundred hours of audio recordings of naturalistic speech in formal and informal settings.

Hilaria earned her Ph.D. in linguistics in 2014 at the University of Texas at Austin. The dissertation entitled “Linguistic Poetics and Rhetoric of Eastern Chatino of San Juan Quiahije,” analyzes the poetic patterns of SJQ discourse.

Hilaria is currently working on a project with LINGUIST List to create tools for speech recognition in SJQ Chatino. Beginning in the fall of 2015 Hilaria will be a Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Kentucky. There Hilaria will investigate, the Chatino concepts of death in four Eastern Chatino communities. They are Santa Maria Yolotepec (YOL), Santa Maria Amialtepec (AMIA) and San Juan Quiahije (SJQ) and San Marcos Zacatepec (ZAC).  Hilaria’s research interests include Chatino poetics and verbal art, language revitalization, and automatic speech recognition in Chatino.

The LINGUIST List Operation

Dear LINGUIST List supporters,

Many of you have heard that the LINGUIST List relocated from Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti to Indiana University in Bloomington in 2014. Please allow us to summarize what this relocation involved.

In spring 2014 we started cleaning out the former space of LINGUIST List and the Institute for Language Information and Technology (ILIT) at EMU and planning the relocation to Indiana University. Some team members decided to join us in the relocation and continue their work and lives at the new location. Unfortunately, not everybody could join us. Our editors Uliana and Danuta continue to support LINGUIST List remotely, but decided to stay in Michigan.

As you can imagine, the LINGUIST List operation involves a significant amount of technology and equipment. The servers that the LINGUIST List was using in Michigan supported among others the following systems:

It was clear that it would not be possible to relocate the hardware (7 servers of varying age and capacity) and the other equipment. One of the problems we were facing was that policies and restrictions at our new hosting institution would not allow us to operate the respective servers there. It also quickly became clear that the LINGUIST List would not have the funds to pay the expensive licenses for commercial software, e.g. LISTSERV, Adobe ColdFusion, or Oracle database server at the new location.

Many of our online linguistic tools (e.g. LEGO, GOLD, etc.) were developed long ago, with funds from research grants, using now outdated software, with systems running untouched for years on outdated infrastructure, written in programming languages that have been overhauled ever since and so on. As in any research environment with IT-systems and software, as soon as the software is ready and installed, the environment, programming language, and systems are outdated and need updates. For many systems, we were facing the situation that they could not be updated at all anymore, since they relied on components that were removed from modern Linux distributions years ago, because the programming languages and libraries they used were not even available anymore (in the required version).

All these issues together posed a serious problem. LINGUIST had no resources to fund new servers or the redevelopment and adaptation of the software and applications. No research funding agency could be approached in such a short time to help find a solution and preserve the data and applications. LINGUIST had no funds for a basic IT-infrastructure, or the mentioned commercial software licenses for the existing infrastructure and organization. On the other hand, the basics to run an operation like LINGUIST and all the projects and online applications were missing. The infrastructure demands are huge, e.g. a large digital storage space and quite high computational power to cope with the amount of data are needed, to serve millions of access requests every day, handle large amounts of data transfer, etc. On the other hand, the labor necessary to handle the setup, installation, administration, programming and data management was just overwhelming and immense. We had no funds to support any external IT-person to help us with the launch of the systems and services.

As you can imagine, in addition to these problems, there was no available solution to get help with these technical problems. There was not even time to ask for help, to start a new fund drive, or explain to willing helpers and volunteers what needs to be done, and how one could help us. As we were running out of funds, we were running out of time. We were already in over our heads.

Just before the move there were two significant steps that we took. We asked companies for help. We approached Google with an application to grant us free access to their applications and services as a Charitable Non-Profit organization. They approved us. Our problems with data storage, operational email and management tools were solved. We approached GitHub and Bitbucket to grant us free access to their services to manage our code-base for all the systems and software development projects that we had, and quite many we had… Since Bitbucket approved our application first, we decided to go with their service. We are grateful that Google and Bitbucket decided to support us and significantly reduce the workload that we had. Software development with the help of services like GitHub or Bitbucket is significantly easier and faster. We have a very good versioning system now, and collaboration between team members and external helpers is much, much better.

Since various policies at the new institution do not allow us to operate our own list- or email-server within the hosting institution’s intranet, we had to set up the necessary servers outside of the institution through commercial means. We also had to find fast and easy solutions for the LINGUIST List website and various other services to minimize the downtime during the move as much as possible. We have chosen to use Amazon EC2 and A2 Hosting virtual servers for that. These virtual server instances have significant advantages, but they also come with a price-tag. The price for the virtual servers is still lower than investing in new hardware, server hosting at any location, and hardware maintenance and administration costs. We estimate the LINGUIST List saves significantly on operational costs with the new infrastructure. In addition to that, the virtual server infrastructure opens up new flexible solutions. Any server instance can be backed up as an image, that we can download and even run in a virtualization software tool on our desktop machines. The new management tools for tablets for example offer an easy and neat administration interface. It has the touch of Star Trek to open up the tablet and add a new CPU or more memory to the servers, reboot the machine from a mobile phone, and so on.

The LINGUIST List team decided to stick with Linux as the operating system for all servers. We also decided to use only open source and free software for everything from now on. The database was replaced by PostgreSQL. The LISTSERV system was replaced by Mailman. Adobe ColdFusion was replaced with the open source and free Railo system. All operating systems were replaced by free and open Debian-based Linux systems. Even the desktop systems for the editors, developers and managers were replaced by Linux PCs. Our development environment is based on Vim, Eclipse, and other open and free tools. We have to confess, we make use of PyCharm (the free and community, or student and faculty edition, thanks to JetBRAINS for providing those free of charge).

The changes from a commercial database software to an open source one, or the switch from Adobe ColdFusion to Railo, do not just mean no licensing fees and therefore savings. They actually came with an incredible investment upfront. Most of the code, all SQL database commands and code sequences, the ColdFusion code – essentially everything had to be checked and rewritten. This could not be done in a month, two months or half a year. Given the aforementioned problems with hardware, outdated software, and other finance and time problems, this was just a very bad move. We cannot switch at the same time the running systems to free and open ones. Well, we can, and we did. Since we had to invest in updating the systems anyway, we thought that we can also rewrite and change everything and make the move to Open and Free. We have rewritten so much of the old vintage LINGUIST List website, it is an entirely new system in the back-end. We paid for the switch from commercial and expensive software to free and open source systems with our free time. We invested our weekends, nights, and holidays in the port and the relocation. More than once we had reached a point of total frustration, of physical and mental exhaustion, where no more coffee or sugar resources would help. Can you imagine? At the same time, we had to run the operations, continue editing, posting, talk to colleagues who want to make changes of postings, job ads, conference announcements, and also rent trucks for the relocation, commute back and forth for negotiations, checking out new housing and office spaces etc. May to August 2014 were the wildest months of our lives.

Many of you have experienced some glitches and broken or dysfunctional pages. We are sorry for that. Given the short time for relocation and the switch of the paradigms and systems, we were not able to test upfront before bringing up and making it live, but rather had to use user feedback to fix issues as they occurred. We transferred the lists to the new Mailman system. This has caused some of the deactivated accounts to be activated again. Colleagues and subscribers started getting mails and were quite surprised to receive the full LINGUIST list email collection every day; some were even angry with us. We are sorry for causing you this inconvenience, but there was no other way for us to transfer the list server mails, archives and subscriptions to the new system.

The team at LINGUIST List was massively reduced. Only Malgosia, Lwin, and Damir relocated from Michigan to Indiana, together with three GAs, Andrew, Sara, and Anna. The relocation meant not only a relocation of families, children, and households, it also meant the relocation of resources, the acquisition of equipment, the setting up of a new office space for the operation, and also the cleaning up the old one. The team did an incredible job. Within just 6 months all that was accomplished, and the operation of LINGUIST List was interrupted just for some hours and minutes. Many people did not realize that. Many in fact feared that this endeavor will fail, that it was basically impossible to achieve all this in such a short time.

We are lucky that IU provided us with a nice building to restart our operations. We were able to acquire a few PCs to start working again and we got some furniture from surplus to equip a meeting room and basic office space. We have a coffee machine again in the office, and things have calmed down somewhat. We sleep again, and life has some rhythm again. There is still a lot of work, a lot to do, and a lot we need to arrange and organize.

In the meantime we can report that:

  • The LINGUIST List website is up and running, faster and more stable than before, not only the newly written ‘vintage website’ with the new PostgreSQL database and Railo ColdFusion engine, but also the new website, which we could not continue developing since spring 2014 (based on Django and Python) because of the move.
  • EMELD is up and running, with some minor issues to fix from time to time. The code has been transfered from Adobe ColdFusion and Oracle to Railo and PostgreSQL.
  • The list server is back and all the archives and other functionalities are up, hosting not just LINGUIST and LINGLITE, but also many other lists that some of you might be subscribed to. We are now using the GNU open source server Mailman.
  • LEGO is up, with some issues that we still need to fix. This site was written in PHP and specific extensions and libraries. It uses in the backend the Apache Solr indexing engine running on a Tomcat server. This was a lot of work, to reinstall it and set it up. Some minor issues need to be fixed that have to do with the Solr communication in searches.
  • GOLD is up and running. It was also written in PHP using the Zend framework. We had to port old code to new server and software environments.
  • MultiTree is up, both the new and the old site. The old system still needs to be fixed, and the new one that was developed using Django and D3js needs some more development. The old system was written in one of the early Ruby on Rails versions. The port to the more recent Railo versions was quite complex.
  • OLAC is connected again, thanks to the help of many colleagues, e.g. Gary Simons, Steven Bird and others.
  • ODIN is up, and needs some minor corrections.
  • LL-Map is installed and needs to be activated again. Soon we should have the system and the connections up again, and all the polygons and maps available for browsing and search, linked to MultiTree, even LEGO and GOLD etc. There are new ways to contribute own maps and information now.
  • Etc.

There is still a lot to do. Most of the transfer has been accomplished. We did everything we could to preserve the data, port the applications, make the new site and operations more sustainable, cheaper, more open, and robust.

We are all set for a new start. After 25 years of the LINGUIST List, the technology and environment is again up to date, ready for the next 25 years.

Many of you know, the LINGUIST List has a very low operational budget. It did operate at its financial limits since spring 2013, without a fund drive in 2013, and a limited fund drive in 2014. LINGUIST started in the new location without any significant funds, just with the help and support of its hosting institution, the team, and some supporters.

The team and the operation now need your help. We depend on the Fund Drive 2015 to be able to continue with normal operations during the summer 2015, and during the next academic year. Graduate assistantships do not cover the summer. Although IU supports us with two fully covered GAs, and two partially covered ones (in addition to all the other support that we get from IU and the Department of Linguistics), we need to cover the summer months by paying editors. We also need more person-power to cover the next academic year.

Please consider helping LINGUIST List to continue its operations and donate during the 2015 Fund Drive.

The LINGUIST List Team

Making the Most of LINGUIST: Additional and Special Interest Resources

Some LINGUIST resources aren’t so easy to classify. In this last letter, we’ve grouped some of the lesser-known features that may be of interest to you.

LINGUIST has established a presence on a variety of social networking sites. Connect with us by clicking the links below:

Various linguistic resources can only be found on the World Wide Web. Luckily, LINGUIST has an area for that!

  • Web Resources/Software: This area of the LINGUIST List contains links to websites and software devoted to natural and constructed languages, to writing systems, and to language resources on the web (such as dictionaries).
  • FYI: As mentioned in our previous letter, the FYI area contains information that doesn’t neatly fit into any single LINGUIST posting topic, such as calls for book chapters, award recipient announcements, new journal editor announcements, scholarship announcements, etc.
  • Discussion: The Discussion area is one of LINGUIST’s best kept secrets (but we’d like it to be not-so-secret). Discussions posted on the LINGUIST site have spawned many publications, collaborations, and thought-provoking linguistic observations and ponderings. Join the discussion!
  • Mailing Lists: There are a number of mailing lists linked in here that are related to different facets of linguistics and language.

LINGUIST’s projects also cater to various linguistic interests.

  • Tutorials: These tutorials were designed by programmers to help train linguistics students for work at LINGUIST. They’re very helpful introductions (or, for some of you, refreshers) for the technical work linguists engage in.
  • Linguistic Blogs: Here you can see what linguists on the web have to say about language:
  • Learning Languages Other than English: These resources will help you find language learning resources.
  • English Language Learning (EFL/ESL): LINGUIST also contains a variety of resources for learning English.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this Making the Most of LINGUIST letter series! As always, if you have any questions about the services LINGUIST offers its readers and subscribers, don’t hesitate to ask.

New Evidence for Neanderthal Language Announced

YPSILANTI, Michigan – The controversy over whether Neanderthals possessed a capacity for language may have been resolved. After years of speculation by evolutionary anthropologists and geneticists, a group of linguists has announced today that they have uncovered written evidence proving the Neanderthal capacity for language.

“Neanderthal man was able to express his ideas about the world around him, but was restricted by his limited syntax,” Professor Schmaltz explained at today’s press conference. “Whereas modern man combines words hierarchically into structure, the Neanderthal could only concatenate them linearly.”

It seems that Neanderthals had a single syllable oog, which, when repeated, formed different words. oog has been translated as ‘Oog’ a proper name, oog.oog meant ‘two people named Oog,’ oog.oog.oog meant ‘emotionally distant – like a teenager anxious to move out of his parents’ cave’ and so on.

Schmaltz’ team was able to identify and translate two texts left by Neanderthals. The first, a recent discovery in Spain, is a fragment of a teenager’s diary. It reads oog.oog.oog and has been translated as ‘[Dear diary, I feel] emotionally distant. [I wish I had my own cave]’.

‘[Dear diary, I feel] emotionally distant. [I wish I had my own cave]’

oog.oog.oog

The second text is either an exhaustive history of the region or simply the Neanderthal word for ‘antelope’, oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog…

oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog…

oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog.oog…

These findings suggest Neanderthals were just as culturally sophisticated as modern humans, but totally lacked an efficient method of communication. It has long been known that while Homo Sapiens’ culture developed rapidly, Neanderthals stagnated over thousands of years. Schmaltz hypothesizes that innovations simply would have taken too long to explain, as new words would have to be even longer chains of oog’s.

Schmaltz went on to speculate that the high-five traces its origins back to a borrowing from Proto-Neanderthal. “With each hand representing the name ‘Oog,’ slapping them together must have been used as a greeting. It truly was the original instant message.”

 

LINGUIST: A Non-Profit Service for Linguists

Dear Subscribers,

I came from Shanghai, China and I am so happy that I have joined the LINGUIST team over the past six years. I really appreciate the LINGUIST List for giving me this job opportunity. Right now I can support my family, raise my kid, and learn a lot of new things from different projects.

As a full time programmer for LINGUIST, I have been involved in many different projects. This year I am mainly involved in two projects: LEGO and EasyReg. For the LEGO project, we have uploaded 31 lexicons and we will upload more lexicons and more than 3000 word lists into our system. Then the user can search all the data in these lexicons and word lists through our faceted search facility. The EasyReg facility was launched a few months ago. The EasyReg system will help conference organizer to set up online registration system easily and let registrants submit and pay registration fee online through their customized registration system.

Also I help to maintain the publisher, finance and EasyAbs web sites.

LINGUIST is non-profit organization. It provides free service for all linguist users in the world. Your donations – even a small amount – will mean a lot for us. Your contribution will help us to continually run another year to provide more service for linguist users and gave us the chance to work here.

Please help us to donate at:
https://linguistlist.org/donation/donate/donate1.cfm

Thanks again for your continued support and donations!

Yours sincerely,
Li (Lily) Zheng
LINGUIST Programmer

LINGUIST: Supporting Linguistics Internationally

Dear subscribers,

I am Xiyan Wang from China. I graduated with my M.A. in Linguistics in April 2013 and continued my editing work at LINGUIST List until now. In addition to the data and tools for scholars in their research and field work, LINGUIST List provides the unique resources and information for the whole linguistic community.

Please donate so that our service for all the users and the linguistic community could continue:

https://linguistlist.org/donation/donate/donate1.cfm

Since last summer I have been working with other crew members on Calls & Conferences, Institutions & Programs and LL-Map. Through Calls & Conferences services, users can announce conferences and find conferences relevant to their interests. Institutions & Programs provide information on institutions and programs that specialize in particular languages or fields of study for students and faculty. LL-MAP not only helps the user with dynamic search for language data, it also gives scholars the opportunity to utilize our site for the creation of their own language maps.

The idea of keeping the resources and services free and easy to access for scholars, students and all users is deeply held in LINGUIST List. However, we could not fully achieve these goals without your generous donation every year. I have been working at LINGUIST List as an international student for about two and a half years. I have always been grateful to this organization’s support with which I finished my MA study and graduated last April. The study and work here is already part of treasure in my life that I will never forget. Your support and donation has always been very significant to assist the many international graduate students like me and help us continue our efforts of providing better services to the linguistic community. Even a small sum of money will be valuable to LINGUIST List and eventually all the users benefit from your generous donations. We need your help, please donate with just one click:

https://linguistlist.org/donation/donate/donate1.cfm

Sincerely,
Xiyan Wang

Making the Most of LINGUIST: Resources for Research

As a researcher, there are a lot of ways to formulate research questions and gather linguistic data. LINGUIST offers several features you can use to reach out to the linguistics community as you conduct your research.

  • Queries: You can submit research surveys, tests, and ask for resources relevant to your research here:

If you think someone may have already asked a similar question, check out Summaries to see if our readers have provided a response.

For general research needs, LINGUIST features a Publications Area where you can find bibliographic resources:

In this area, you can find:

If you’re doing language documentation research or your research is more technical in nature, you should visit our

for technical tips.

In fact, all of our projects can be used to gather information, and generate and support language hypotheses:

So once you’ve finished your research, how can you use LINGUIST to make the most of your career? Stay tuned for the next letter on LINGUIST’s resources for professional development.

Remember, these services are available to the linguistic community by your donations. To help us keep these services available in the future, remember to donate and help support.

LINGUIST: A Hub for Open and Free Services

Dear LINGUIST List Subscribers,

My name is Andrew Lamont. I’m a student editor at the LINGUIST List. I came to the LINGUIST List last January to volunteer on LL-MAP and MultiTree. Prior to this exposure, I had only dreamt of such a central hub of linguistic resources as accessible and open as these. As I began delving deeper into the treasure trove of the LINGUIST List, I came to realize what an incredible resource our community has.

The time I spend supporting the LINGUIST List has been one of the most valuable experiences of my working life as a tyro linguist. Not only am I working towards goals shared by the entire community, but my time here enables me to pursue graduate studies, pursuing my own academic goals. Like many of you, I depend on the LINGUIST List.

Here in the office, I work on announcements of publications, act as a listserv administrator, and run the tech team. Like everyone else here who works hard to keep the LINGUIST List running smoothly, I know the LINGUIST List depends on me.

The LINGUIST List also depends on our subscribers for their support. While we in the office keep everything running smoothly, you keep everything running. I hope you’ll take the time to consider supporting this vital resource we all benefit from.

Please visit the link below to read more about this year’s fund drive and to make a donation.

http://linguistlist.org/donation

Thank You,

Andrew Lamont
LINGUIST List

LINGUIST: A Guide to Linguistic Resources

Dear LINGUIST List Subscribers,

As the Managing Editor, one of the most valuable lessons I’ve gained is how to guide linguists to resources that are relevant to their needs. The LINGUIST List has the ability to provide a multitude of features to the linguistic community without requiring a subscription fee. Without this fee to provide our services to the entire community, we rely on your donations to keep our services available to everyone. Please consider donating again so we can continue to offer the latest resources in linguistics:

https://linguistlist.org/donation/donate/donate1.cfm

I started working at The LINGUIST List as a volunteer in September 2011 simply because I wanted to gain some experience in linguistics and network within the linguistic community. It turned out that later I was offered a position as a student worker, then as a graduate assistant, and now, as the managing editor. I know that I would not have been offered these opportunities had it not been for your donations in past fund drives.

During this past year, our office has been able to work in redesigning project websites. Most recently we were able to release a beta-edition of MultiTree (http://ltl.emich.edu/multitree) and have been able to begin the infrastructure for the new LINGUIST List website! We are excited to be working on this and we are relying on your donations more than ever to allow us to show results from our current and future staff.

If you donate today, you will ensure that our services for the linguistic community will continue, as well as support the work of students like myself. I greatly appreciate any donations that ensure more students will have the same opportunities that I had.

https://linguistlist.org/donation/donate/donate1.cfm

Thank you so much for your generosity!

Sarah Fox
Managing Editor
The LINGUIST List

LINGUIST List: Networking for Linguistics

Dear Fellow Linguist,

Hi, I’m Bryn. If you have ever donated to the LINGUIST List, you are the reason that I was able to complete an exciting and enriching internship at the LINGUIST List this summer. If you have yet to donate, you have the opportunity now to help fund my work and the pursuit of my MA in Linguistics at Eastern Michigan University, while I continue serving you as a LINGUIST List student editor and team member of the Catalogue of Endangered Languages (ELCat).

Ever since I earned my BA in Linguistics and Russian Language & Literature from the University of Michigan in 2011, I have been compelled by the wildly idealistic passion to rescue endangered languages, or at least to document them for the advancement of the science. Beginning with a summer internship, the LINGUIST List has focused my energy on ELCat, one of our many projects desgined for the benefit of the linguistic community. The goal of ELCat is to assemble research on endangered languages into one up-to-date, vetted, searchable resource, which is now live at www.endangeredlanguages.com. My job is to find the best information on endangered languages and bring it to you, which has cultivated in me the important scholarly skills of resource retrieval, fast but thorough processing of linguistic literature, and bibliography management.

More than just an enthusiastic ELCat team member, I am also your editor for conference calls for papers at the LINGUIST List. That’s right: I am the one who makes sure you know that the deadline to submit to your field’s biggest conference is fast approaching, that your abstract must be no longer than 500 words, and that your submission will be rejected outright if it’s anything but a hyper-anonymized PDF with exact-to-the-milimeter margins. If you have ever submitted a conference to the mailing list, you might remember me as the one who triple-checked your spelling and painstakingly formatted your submission, who emailed you at 6 a.m. Sunday morning when you need to change your deadline, or who distributed your appel à communications in three more languages than I can personally speak.

As a linguist, I am incredibly grateful to be part of a discipline with such a well-established infrastructure to help us navigate the labyrinth of academia. Not every field has a resource like the LINGUIST List. You would be surprised how many calls for papers I have to reject for lack of linguistic relevance: submissions pertaining to economics, business, and ecology, submitted to LINGUIST for lack of a better way to distribute their announcements among their own colleagues. Our linguistics network is a great source of pride for me and, I hope, a great service to you.

If you believe in the service we provide, or if you just want to make sure graduate students like me continue to receive their stipend checks, please follow this link and donate to the LINGUIST List:

http://linguistlist.org/donation/

Sincerely,

Bryn Hauk
Calls & Conferences Editor
ELP/ELCat Team Member
The LINGUIST List