Fulbright awarded to linguistics M.A. student


Moira Saltzman, M.A. candidate in linguistics, has been awarded a 10-month Fulbright Study/Research Grant to develop a 'talking dictionary' of Jejueo, the indigenous language of Jeju Island, South Korea. In 2010 UNESCO classified Jejueo as critically endangered, with 5,000-10,000 native speakers, but fluent speakers only over the age of 70. 

Talking dictionaries are online programs for language learners that feature audio or video materials along with definitions. The talking dictionary of Jejueo will incorporate oral histories and dialogues spoken in Jejueo. Language learners can browse Jejueo words alphabetically, or search for a word in either Jejueo, Korean or English, and find an audio clip of its pronunciation, its definition in three languages, and any videos which feature the word or phrase used in context. In recent years, talking dictionaries have proven to be valuable tools in language revitalization programs worldwide.

The Jejueo talking dictionary project will feature video clips of natural language use to allow Jejueo learners to see the linguistic, cultural, and historical significance of each word. Video clips will cover a spectrum of traditional knowledge, such as storytelling, shamanic rituals, songs, ancestor lineage, native cuisine, and the flora and fauna of the island.  Beneath each video users will find a transcript in Jejueo, and translations in Korean and English.

Types of discourse, such as questions, and cultural information, such as lineage, will also be tagged and searchable. The Jejueo talking dictionary will also incorporate existing annotated video corpora from native and foreign scholars, and make this data accessible worldwide. The Jejueo talking dictionary will thus serve as a crossing point between language acquisition and cultural knowledge, both of which are in critical danger of disappearing with the last generation of native speakers.

Through collaborative effort with Jejueo linguist Soung-U Kim, Ms. Saltzman will also create an Android application of the Jejueo talking dictionary for Jejueo, Korean and English-speaking users.

Learn more about Jejueo language revitalization.

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