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It is important to preserve language documentation for future generations, particularly when documenting endangered languages. Every linguist who collects data must be a kind of archivist, making sure that the language data collected will transcend both time and technology.

This area of the school presents information on producing archival-quality language documentation materials and preparing existing field corpora for storage in long-term archives, using practices that allow the materials to endure.

An archive-ready corpus

A corpus is any set of linguistic materials relating to a language; it might consist of audio recordings, video recordings, transcriptions, field notes, a grammar, a lexicon, grammatical analyses, or ethnographic information. Any linguist that works in the field creates a corpus of language data. In creating an archive-ready corpus, it is important to ensure that the materials are in good shape and clearly labeled at every stage in their production. Language documentation is a long-term process, and there is always the chance that someone else may have to complete another linguist's work.

More on creating an archive-ready corpus

Finding an archive

E-MELD strongly recommends that linguists place their corpora in a reputable archive, since an archive has the resources to keep up with changes in technology and make sure language documentation remains accessible over time. However, even if a corpus is not deposited in an archive, it is important to take steps to make materials durable and lasting.

More on finding an archive

The content of this page was developed following the recommendations of the E-MELD working group on Archiving.

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