Language and Linguistics

Department of Language and Linguistics

The department of Language and Linguistics, was established aiming at conducting valuable research work in the field of language and linguistics in Northeast India. The scope of the department ranges from conducting linguistic surveys of Assam, descriptive and ethnological studies of languages, to conducting research for development of Assamese and other indigenous languages by generating lexicons and grammars. Over the past years the department has been actively involved in the production and publication of dictionaries of a number of different ethnic languages in Northeast India. The lexicons published so far include Mising Gompir Kumsung, a trilingual dictionary (Mising-Mising-Assamese-English) of the Mising language and Khurangmuk, a trilingual dictionary (Rabha-Rabha-Assamese-English) of the Rabha language. It has also been working with many other ethnic languages to produce more such dictionaries which are valuable contributions towards strengthening the vitality of those languages.

In addition to such research endeavours the department has of late, focussed on the following important areas of language research

1) Documentation and description of endangered languages in Northeast India

Language endangerment has, of late, taken a centre stage in the realm of language and linguistic research around the globe. It has become an issue of serious concern as the loss of certain languages spoken by various speech communities around the globe at a much faster pace than we can imagine has an overwhelming negative effect on the invaluable human knowledge store. Northeast India being one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world also has been plagued by this threat. It has been quite evident that with the death or disappearance of a language, we tend to lose a wealth of knowledge which lay embedded in their language which has direct relation to their culture and their world view. Therefore it is very important and urgent that timely interventions should be made to at least document, describe and preserve these languages which are positioned at various stages of endangerment. The Language and Linguistics department in ABILAC is keen on responding to this threatening global phenomenon of language endangerment and plans to work towards documentation, description and preservation of endangered languages in Northeast India. The department in this regard focuses on the following specific areas

a) Digital documentation of the endangered languages, culture and tradition of the respective speech communities in Northeast India.

b) Description of hitherto undescribed languages by way of conducting research on specific linguistic aspects of such languages. Such research studies are conducted through intensive linguistic fieldwork by trained language researchers in the specific fields of study.

2) Community based language research

The Dept also takes interest in conducting community based language research by way of empowering competent community members to take active participation in the research process. It also facilitates community efforts towards strengthening and revitalizing their heritage language.

3) Language Technology Research and Development:

             Primarily language technology research and development covers the area of the development of language based tools, language-computer interface and their gradual up gradation to fit language as a resource of knowledge and education. Without having adequate correlation with present computational technology, knowledge based research and educational advancement will not be possible. Keeping in view the present need in the field of language technology research, the department of Language and Linguistics gives importance on the following fields as thrust areas of research:

i)Research and development on speech technology

ii)Phonetic, Phonemic and Phonological documentation for the North-Eastern language as a resource of language-technological tool development.

iii)Research and development of corpus based database.

iv)Designing and development of fonts

v)Development of resources for building up tools in terms of language structure analysis.