Wailaki Language to Live On Through Digitizing Initiative

Victor Golla is a professor of Anthropology and Native American Studies at Humboldt State University in California who also specializes in Athabaskan (Native American) languages. According to the university newspaper “Humboldt State Now” he is working there with undergraduate students (through their own URCA program) to digitize hundred year-old field notes on the Wailaki language. Wailaki is a language that is essentially extinct, save for a few people who wish to re-learn their language from these notes. Dr. Golla and his research team view digitization as a solution to problems such as longevity and preservation of rare, valuable (and fragile) language material, availability to learners across a wide geographic range, and the possibility to annotate and edit the original observations on this language in an interactive and online dimension. As Dr. Golla notes in this article : “Documents are not language; they just document it … [but](p)eople could create a new use — a revitalization — of Wailaki from these notebooks.”

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