Kala Vernacular Education and Local Ecological Knowledge - June 2010

Pictured are: James, a Kala speaker from Apoze Village, PNG (right) with

research assistant Kisung (left) and

Christine Schreyer (centre)

Research Awards:

2012 -

Public Education Through Media

Learning to Talk to the Land: (Re)claiming Taku River Tlingit Place Names (with Dr. Jon Corbett) -

Research Projects:

This research builds on my previous research with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation, who have incorporated language planning into their community's land planning (Schreyer, 2009). Currently, they are interested in having their Tlingit place names added to official Canadian government maps and this research will examine why this is of importance to their community, as well as their opinions on their role as a nation within Canada as a nation-state. This research will use the idea of "counter-mapping" or mapping from the perspective of the marginalized portion of society in order to use Indigenous place names, and hence, Indigenous languages, as a tool for raising awareness of Indigenous Stewardship in Canada.

The language of Kala is spoken in six villages located along the shoreline of the Huon Gulf in Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea. Within these six villages, there are four distinct dialects of Kala. In 2006, due to concern about language shift in their communities, Kala speaking community members developed the Kala Language Committee. This committee consists of three individuals from each of the six Kala speaking villages and their goals are to raise awareness about Kala language shift and to develop more Kala usage in their communities, specifically within Kala language elementary schools. The main activities in this research project have been a phonological analysis and the development of a Kala alphabet, known as the Kala Biŋatuwã, as well as developing more Kala books including the first Kala dictionary.

Report on Na’vi Research © Christine Schreyer (October 2011)

Speaking of Identity: The role of speaking and writing amongst speakers of Na’vi (November 2012)

Within the field of linguistic anthropology, few studies have focused on the speakers of created languages. In particular, the identities of speakers of media-driven created languages such as Klingon, created by Mark Okrand in 1984 for the Star Trek movies and television series, and Na’vi, created by Paul Frommer in 2009 for the movie Avatar, have not often been considered within our discipline. One reason behind this may be the popular impression, intensified by the media, that speakers of these languages are obsessed fans or fanatics. This project uses data from a survey to be conducted in June and July of 2011 in order to determine who is learning to speak Na’vi, why they are learning Na’vi and how the language is developing over time.

Fan or Fanatic: Who are the Speakers of Na’vi?

To see the documentary film click here.