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Guest lecture – Mandana Seyfeddinipur: "Saving Endangered Languages"
Guest lecture – Mandana Seyfeddinipur: “Saving Endangered Languages”
By the end of this century, half of the 7,000 languages that are spoken today will fall silent – according to Mandana Seyfeddinipur, who aims to find, document, and analyse the most endangered idioms.
Since 2010, Mandana Seyfeddinipur has been the director of the SOAS World Languages Institute at the University of London and since 2014 she has headed the Endangered Languages Archive.
Moreover, Mandana Seyfeddinipur has been cooperating with London’s Southbank Centre’s National Poetry Library to preserve verse that would otherwise be lost to humankind. “We’re losing languages,” Seyfeddinipur warns, “at the same speed at which the world lost its dinosaurs at the fifth mass extinction.” Although it appears to be a natural process – “people move somewhere, they give up their language and adapt another language.” But “it’s the beauty of language that it’s a social tool,” Seyfeddinipur argues, explaining that “because of globalisation and urbanisation and climate change, this process has sped up beyond what we’ve ever seen.”
In her talk, Seyfeddinipur will not only give an insight into her research but will also refer to the crucial role of poetry in endangered languages and her cooperation with the Endangered Poetry Project launched by National Poetry Librarian Chris McCabe.
Mandana Seyfeddinipur (b. 1967) grew up in Germany where she enrolled in linguistics and Persian studies at the Free University of Berlin graduating with a Master’s degree. She completed her doctorate on “Disfluency: Interrupting speech and gesture” at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics at Radboud University Nijmegen in 2005. Subsequently, she undertook postdoctoral work at Stanford University from 2006 to 2009. In the following year, Seyfeddinipur moved to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London in 2010, where she became head of the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme, which has been awarding grants for the documentation of endangered languages worldwide since 2002, financed by the private Arcadia Foundation. Since 2014 she has headed the Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR) dealing with the digital preservation of endangered languages, making digital collections of endangered languages accessible worldwide.
Seyfeddinipur also teaches courses in Visual Mode of Language, the use of videos in field research on endangered languages, language psychology and language use. Her research interests focus on (audiovisual) language documentation, cultural and linguistic diversity in language use, psycholinguistics, and language production.