Rochester Institute of Technology
Wilson de Lima Silva, seated right, at a language documentation workshop in a Desano village in Northwestern Amazonia, Brazil.

Upcoming Symposium to Examine How Technology Can Save Native Languages


A symposium to discuss the documentation, conservation and revitalization of American Indian Languages will be held Friday, April 17, at Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Integrated Manufacturing Studies (rooms 2120 and 2130 in Louise Slaughter Hall) in Rochester, New York.

The symposium will also provide a forum for the exchange of research among scholars, members of the indigenous communities, native speakers, educators and language activists who document, conserve and revitalize languages.

“This is a public event for any open-minded individual interested in knowing more about the linguistic and cultural diversity in the Americas,” said Wilson De Lima Silva, symposium organizer and assistant research professor in RIT’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. “Unfortunately, most of the native languages are endangered, and in the symposium we will be discussing, among other things, how we can use digital technologies to help preserve these languages.”

The symposium starts at 9:15 a.m. and continues through 7 p.m. Keynote speaker is Keren Rice from the University of Toronto, who will give her opinion on the ways development of technology have changed the world of language revitalization and documentation.

At 3:15 p.m., filmmaker Cat Ashworth, associate professor at RIT’s School of Film and Animation, and producer G. Peter Jemison from the Ganondagan Historic Site southeast of Rochester, will talk on the development of their upcoming film, Iroquois Creation Story of Haudenosaunee.

The theme is “Tools and Techniques for Language Documentation and Revitalization: Media and Technology” and the symposium is an initiative of RIT’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology and RIT’s Future Stewards Native American Program.

The event is open to the public for $25, or free to RIT students, alumni, employees and members of Native American groups.

For a list of speakers, topics, to register or for more information, visit.

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Amalia Rubin
Amalia Rubin
Submitted by Amalia Rubin on
Will this be webcast or recorded? I'm stuck out on the east coast, but do a lot of work on Tibetan language preservation and promotion and I think the tools presented here might be very useful for me to learn!

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
(from the article): " “Unfortunately, most of the native languages are endangered, and in the symposium we will be discussing, among other things . . . " ______________________________________________________________ Ironic how the very people responsible for Native languages being endangered are the ones we'll rely upon to preserve these languages. "Killing the Indian" was the prime purpose of the boarding schools that tore Native children away from their parents. They did their job so well that our current generations are left to fend for themselves when it comes to language and culture.