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Collaborative research projects



Programs (co-)managed by Lacito members

  • HimalCo (Himalayan Corpora) (2013-2015)
    Participants: Guillaume Jacques (coordinator, CNRS-CRLAO), Aimée Lahaussois (CNRS-HTL), Séverine Guillaume (CNRS-LACITO) and Alexis Michaud (CNRS-MICA, Hanoï)
    his project proposes to build parallel corpora for three sub-groups of the Sino-Tibetan family, covering a total of 8 little-described oral languages. These corpora will be made up of texts and lexical data. The alignment of texts on the basis of their narrative frame will allow for the cross-language comparison of highly similar native materials. HimalCo includes the two essential steps of (i) first-hand data collection in the field (in Nepal and China) and (ii) state-of-the-art transcription, annotation and formatting of the entire data set. In addition to classical interlinear morphemic glossing, translation and sound synchronization as implemented in the Pangloss Collection Archive, the narratives will be organized into parallel corpora in each of the three language subgroups, and the lexical data will be serve as the basis for talking dictionaries: dictionaries combined with sound recordings of individual entries (words spoken in isolation) and of example sentences. The team will develop simple interfaces for the consultation of parallel corpora and talking dictionaries, allowing the comparison of material in individual languages, across languages of a subgroup, and across subgroups. These objectively verifiable data will be available for the in-depth investigation of a broad range of research questions that include topical issues for which these languages have key evidence to contribute..
    Project web pages.
  • Ḍād types in south-west Saudi Arabia (2011-2013)
    Dr Munira Al-Azraqi (University of Dammam, Saudi Arabia), Dr Barry Heselwood (University of Leeds), Dr Samia Naim (CNRS-Lacito) and Pr. Janet Watson (University of Salford) are currently collaborating on a research project entitled 'Ḍād types in south-west Saudi Arabia' funded by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Saudi Arabia.
       This research brings together historical linguistics, Arabic dialectology, geographical linguistics, instrumental phonetics and linguistic typology.
       Dạ̄d is the name of the Arabic letter ض  which corresponds to a sound-type which varies across different varieties of modern Arabic. Historically this sound was believed to be unique to the language, leading the medieval Arab grammarians to describe Arabic as 'the language of ḍād'. Today ḍād corresponds to a sound-type with realisations that vary across the Arab world. This variation is due in part to contact with other languages (substrata, adstrata and superstrata). In most modern Arabic varieties, the sound is produced with complete closure between the sides of the tongue and the inner surfaces of the molars; in some of these dialects, it is realised as a voiced plosive (a bit like the 'd' in English dark); in others, it is realised as a voiced central fricative (like the 'th' in English the); in both variants, it is accompanied by a narrowing of the pharynx (pharyngealisation). These realisations contrast significantly with the medieval descriptions of scholars such as Sībawayh (8th century) in which the air was said to exit from the sides of the tongue rather like it does in an English 'l'-sound, but accompanied by friction and pharyngealisation – [ɮˁ] in International Phonetic Alphabet notation.
       Through the work of Dr Al-Azraqi, it has recently come to light that speakers in some of the more remote villages in south-west Saudi Arabia produce the ḍād as a lateral sound after the medieval fashion (Al-Azraqi 2010). The current project is using, in addition to traditional auditory phonetic analysis, the instrumental phonetic methods of sound spectrography and electropalatography (the latter equipment purchased with the University of Leeds Faculty of Arts SRIF money a few years ago) to try to ascertain the tongue position more precisely and to compare it with the tongue position in other sounds in these dialects. Barry Heselwood's role is to analyse the instrumental data so that the other members of the project team can use this information to set this sound, and these dialects, in their historical context from phonological, dialectological and typological points of view.
    Al-Azraqi, M. (2010) The Ancient Ḍād in Southwest Saudi Arabia. Arabica 57, 57-67.

  • A pan-dialectal documentation of Laz (South Caucasian) (2010-2012)
    Resp.: René Lacroix
    Grant: HRELP-ELDP
    (located in the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology)
    This project will document the four dialects of Laz, a non-written South Caucasian language spoken in North-East Turkey (ISO-639 lzz, +41° 19' 12.39", +41° 15' 37.90"). Estimates of the number of speakers vary widely between 33,000 and 250,000. Nonetheless, Laz is a highly endangered language, as young people do not speak it. Turkish is the language of education, administration and the media. The outcome will be a digital corpus of 50 hours of audio and video recordings, transcribed and translated into Turkish, out of which 5 hours will be provided with an interlinear gloss. Various genres will be documented. To this end, two fieldwork trips will be undertaken, totaling 11 months.

  • The Kurumba Languages of the Nilgiris in South India (2009-2013)
    Resp.: F. Heidemann (Universitât München) & C. Pilot-Raichoor (CNRS-Lacito)
    Grant: Volkswagen Foundation (part of the Documentation of Endangered Languages project)
    The aim of the project is to collect, archive and make available a long lasting and multipurpose multimedia documentation of the language and culture of the Kurumbas in South India. The Kurumbas live in small groups dispersed on the slopes and in the forest areas encircling the Nilgiris. This mountainous massif rises abruptly and culminates in a hilly plateau ranging from 2000 - 2600 m in elevation, bordered by dense, tropical forest extending to its foothills. The whole Nilgiri area is sparsely inhabited by very small and mobile tribal groups, depending mainly on the environment for subsistence. The urgency of the documentation is motivated by the fast disruption of the traditional social ties and ways of life. The project will document the Kurumba language spoken by four distinct groups of people: the Jenu Kurumba, the Alu Kurumba, the Cholanaika and the Mullu Kurumba. The French-Indian-German project will give priority to the linguistic and ethnographic features linked to the natural environment, the tribal mode of life and the specific Nilgiri cultural traditions. For instance, a search for 'honey collection' will give access to videos showing how different groups practice it, to the audio files and annotated texts of the narratives and songs related to this activity, to the vocabulary connected to this theme.


Programs managed by other institutions


Past programs

  • EuroSlav : Electronic database of endangered Slavic varieties in non-Slavic speaking European countries (2010-2012)
    Co-PIs. Evangelia Adamou & Walter Breu (U. Konstanz)
    Awarding Body: French National Research Agency (ANR-09-FASHS-025) & Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

  • Brahmaputra : "Languages, cultures & territories in North-East India" (2007-2011)
    Coordinator, François Jacquesson (Lacito).
    A project financed by the French Agence National de la Recherche (ANR-06-BLAN-002-04)
    A multi-disciplinary international Project about North-East India, with anthropologists, geographers, historians and linguists from French CNRS and EHESS and from Guwahati and Shillong Universities (India). The aim is to understand the history and geographical mobility of populations, the reasons and ways of this mobility and the difficult assessment of identities.

  • Nepal Epic: "Languages and oral traditions of western Nepal". Group project financed by the ANR, managed by the Lacito (2007-2010)
    Project conceived by Boyd Michailovsky (coordinator, LACITO) and Marie Lecomte-Tilouine (Center for Himalayan Studies, CNRS-UPR 299).
    Other participants from the UPR 299: Franck Bernède and Rémy Bordes.
    A project financed by the French Agence National de la Recherche, in the category "Corpora and tools for research in social and human sciences" (ANR-06-CORP-030-01)
    A rich variety of living oral traditions make West Nepal an ideal laboratory for the study of a number of important oral genres. The oral epic or huḍkelī, declaimed and sung by members of the tailor-musician caste, has been recorded and studied by French scholars from an early date: Marc Gaborieau and Mireille Helffer (7 épopeées, 1969), Franck Bernède, Marie Lecomte-Tilouine, Rémy Bordes. These recordings, as well as some new ones, have been assembled; their annotation (transcription, translation) is being completed where necessary, and a digital archive is partly completed and accessible on the site Nepal Epic. A second genre is shamanic texts: recordings corresponding to the extensive publications of Gregory Maskarinec (University of Hawaii) have been digitalized and are being archived with the published annotations. Finally, a few everyday language materials in a variety of Far Western Nepali have been archived. Development of these corpora and related anthropological, linguistic, and ethnomusicological research is continuing.

  • Complexité syntaxique et diversité typologique (2009-2011)
    Grant: PICS
    Resp.: Claudine Chamoreau (Sedyl-CNRS), Zarina Estrada Fernández (Universidad de Sonora, Mexico)
    Lacito participant: Isabelle Bril

  • PASQi Phylogenetic Assessment of Southern Qiangic languages (2008-2011), projet interdisciplinaire sur linguistique et ethnobotanique
    Grant: ANR
    Resp.: Ekaterina Chirkova (CRLAO-CNRS) –
    Lacito participant: Alexis Michaud

  • Analysis of the languages of the Northern Province: a contract between the Lacito and the Northern Province of New Caledonia (2005-2010).
    Participants: J.-C. Rivierre, I. Bril and C. Moyse-Faurie.
    Project goals: Approximately two dozen Kanak languages are spoken in the Northern Province. For a third of these, published data are extremely rare, or even non existent. This project aims to fill this gap over the next five years by associating linguists, specialists of the Kanak languages, and native speakers, students and local authorities who wish to participate in reviving these languages and making them better known. The end result will be the production of documentation including:
         – an alphabetically and thematically ordered dictionary
         – oral tradition texts and a grammatical description
    Advantages of a thematic dictionary: the various aspects of the material culture, social life, natural and geographical surroundings are displayed and the languages' vocabulary is organized following these different themes. This type of presentation facilitates the creation of documents for teaching and cultural purposes.

  • Lost in intonation: the interaction of intonation and meaning in the speech of L1, L2 and heritage speakers of Greek and its implications for cross-cultural communication and education (2009-2010)
    PI: Marina Terkourafi (University of Illinois)
    Awarding Body: Illinois-Worldwide Universities Network (WUN)
    Lacito participant: Evangelia Adamou

  • La polyvalence catégorielle (2006-2010)
    Dir. Valentina Vapnarsky (CNRS-EREA)
    Lacito partner: Isabelle Bril
    Grant: ANR (ANR-POLYCAT)
    L'objectif principal de ce projet est d'évaluer l'hypothèse de la polyvalence catégorielle comme paramètre linguistique, en considérant ses implications d'un point de vue morphosyntaxique, sémantique, typologique et cognitif. L'équipe comprend des chercheurs français et internationaux, de différentes perspectives théoriques et domaines linguistiques (morphosyntaxe, sémantique, acquisition du langage, psycholinguistique, ethnolinguistique, cognition), experts de langues amérindiennes, austronésiennes, papoues, sémitiques, romanes et germaniques. Ce projet de nature comparative et pluridisciplinaire vise à apporter une contribution, à la fois empirique et théorique, aux débats actuels sur les processus de catégorisation, la nature des racines lexicales et le lexique mental. Il interroge la diversité que l'on trouve au sein des langues du monde quant aux modes et aux processus de catégorisation (au niveau des parties du discours ou des classes de racines ou de mots) des différents types d'entités, substances, actions et les possibles incidences de ces variations au niveau de l'acquisition des catégories par l'enfant et de l'organisation conceptuelle. Ces travaux sont menés en partenariat avec des chercheurs et enseignants chercheurs du LESC pour la linguistique et l'ethnolinguistique amérindienne ; du MODYCO pour l'acquisition du langage ; de l'Institut Jean Nicod pour le langage et cognition ; du LACITO pour la typologie linguistique et son programme d'archivage, ainsi qu'à l'étranger, the Australian National University ; l'Université Fédérale de Rio de Janeiro ; the University of Michigan -Dpt. of Anthropology ; the Oklahoma University -Dpt of Linguistics ; et du CEPHSIS, Centre de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México à Mérida.

  • The history and geography of color: linguistic phenomena and communication systems (2008-2009)
    This project was funded by the ISCC (Institut des Sciences de la Communication of the CNRS). It started in September 2008 and ended in December 2009. The project's goal was to lay the foundation for a type of historical atlas of color systems, based on what we know best: modern, contemporary Western Europe. The data studied stem from the lively research carried out in the area in Antiquity and the Middle Ages; we then attempted to broaden our scope to cover the Germanic world, Byzantine, etc. in order to grasp the limits whereby one leaves one "color system" to enter another.
    The project was managed by the LACITO under the supervision of François Jacquesson.
    Other participants were Pascale Dollfus (Laboratory "Milieux, Sociétes et Cultures en Himalaya") and Michel Pastoureau (EPHE, EHESS).

  • East meets West (2000-2003 and 2003-2007)
    A European interdisciplinary project on Central Asia and North-East India, supervised by F. Jacquesson.
    Grant: European Science Foundation (ESF)

  • The Balkan dialects of Bulgaria, a French-Bulgarian integrated action program (RILA)
    Supervisor in France: Z. Guentchéva; in Bulgaria: P. Assenova - University of Sofia.

  • DALLITH (Documentation et Archivage Langues et LInguistique Tibétaines et Himalayennes). PICS n°2554 (2004-2006)
    Partnership between the "Lacito Archive" program and the Tibetan and Himalayan Digital Library (THDL) of the University of Virginia Digital Library.
    Supervisor in France: N. Tournadre; in the USA : D. Germano).

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