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With an estimated 6,000 languages around the world in danger of disappearing by the end of the century, many of them unwritten, there is an urgent need to describe and document as many as we can not only to provide linguists of the future with as full a body of data as possible, but – more importantly – to preserve for the whole of humankind the invaluable cultural wealth and indigenous knowledge they contain. I've always been fascinated both by language itself and by languages in general and now find myself increasingly passionate to be part of the global undertaking to support and record those that are in danger of extinction. I'm raising funds to do an MA in Language Documentation and Description at SOAS in London which will equip me with the knowledge and skills necessary to embark upon a career as a field linguist. These are the people who work closely with speakers of minority and threatened languages, recording their voices, including their songs and their folk tales, collating linguistic phenomena, putting together grammars and compiling dictionaries. The course starts in September 2015 and lasts ten months.
Right now I'm an academic coordinator and teacher of English at the British Council in Madrid, as well as a freelance teacher trainer and occasional translator (Japanese to English). I blog about language, teaching and education in general for Pearson Spain and Portugal and have a personal blog where I share my essays, anecdotes and poems. Previously, I've worked as an English teacher in rural Japan on the JET Programme, as a programme coordinator, translator, interpreter, teacher and logistics manager for the advocacy and educational exchange NGO Peace Boat in Tokyo and as a project manager and the coordinator of a human rights training course for the NGO Education Action in London. You can follow me here:
Keep an eye out for the regular updates I'll be posting online about this fundraising project.
My minimum of £7,260, if raised, will pay for the course fees.
Total course fees: £7,260.00
Anything above the minimum (with a maximum total of £18,930) will go towards funding travel and basic living expenses (based on a one-year rental contract outside central London and essential utilities for the duration of the 10-month course):
10 x Monthly Travelcard Zones 1 - 4 (@ £177.00 per month) £1,770.00
Rent for a one-bedroom flat Zone 4/5 (@ estimated £700 per month) £8400.00
Utilities (@ minimum £150 per month) £1,500.00
TOTAL (including all of the above): £18,930.00
If you love and care about language as much as I do, I have some great rewards for anyone who donates, whatever the amount you might give, including regular editions of Language Alive, the newsletter I'll be writing to accompany the course (and beyond, should things go well). See what's on offer at the side of this page.
You don't need to give money to help me succeed. Please share this project with anyone you think would support me – on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, by email, telephone, in a chat over the fence or on your blog. But of course, if you can sponsor me it will really help to make this happen.
Field linguist Alexandre François interviewing one of the last speakers of the Olrat language of the Vanuatu islands. This could be me at work one day!
Select this reward if you just want to donate to the project without receiving a reward.
Subscription to "Language Alive", the newsletter I'll be writing about language endangerment and revitalisation throughout the duration of the course. You can look forward to an issue once every two months.
Estimated delivery: 1 December 2015
Your own personal, dedicated, endangered word. I'll choose one from among the languages I'll be studying and publish it with your name in one of the issues of "Language Alive". If I know you personally, I'll choose a word I think suits you well.
Estimated delivery: 1 December 2015
Your own personal, dedicated, endangered sentence. I'll choose an idiom or saying from one of the languages I'll be studying, or put together - to the best of my ability - a sentence in that language and publish it along with your name in one of the issues of "Language Alive". You'll also get a special mention in my MA dissertation.
Estimated delivery: 1 July 2016