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Innovative Networking in Infrastructure for Endangered Languages

Final Report Summary - INNET (Innovative Networking in Infrastructure for Endangered Languages)

Executive Summary:
The project “Innovative Networking in Infrastructure for Endangered Languages (INNET)” has been involved in finding technologically and digitally based responses to the linguistic and cultural loss that has been taking place globally in the last decades. INNET's main focus has been on digital archives world-wide that store the linguistic and cultural documentation data for the future. At the same time it pursued the question of how to make these databases scientifically explorable, e.g. for cognitive processing research.
INNET (1) worked at intensifying and extending the existing worldwide archiving grid, (2) strengthend the existing expert network and (3) and promoted the use of digital archives not only by (younger) researchers, but also by schools and the public.
A close collaboration with the infrastructure and research lines developed by CLARIN has taken place and will continue after the actual project phase pertaining to e.g. the use of standards or proper preservation and access of data.
In the course of this work, the project showcased the results achieved by CLARIN so far, thereby (1) giving the CLARIN center network a worldwide extension and impact, (2) using the expert network to disseminate the CLARIN achievements and (3) creating a larger user base that make use of the data stored in the CLARIN center network.

Project Context and Objectives:
INNET has worked on strengthening the digital archives network world-wide by disseminating and implementing results of CLARIN, as well as disseminating knowledge of and about digital archives and their concern with the documentation and processing of data of endangered languages and cultures in schools and the public.

Specifically, the following results as related to the original objectives achieved are:

1) The Language Archive group at the MPIPL has continued to elaborate their Language Archiving Technology (LAT)-software suite, that enables language archives with digital audiovisual recordings to function properly. With this instrument, the existing grid of regional language servers were checked and upgraded by implementing of the latest LAT-software suite by the MPIPL; there are currently 13 functional archives in this network that are functional.
2) Five new regional archives were established (three of them financed by INNET); the new archives are based in Yaoundé (Cameroon), Manokwari (Indonesia) and Tbilisi (Georgia). Partner joining the network with their own funds were Cape Town (RSA) and Cologne (Germany).
3) Annual training events of regional archivists in using proper and up-to-date standards and tools were held three times with central workshops at the MPIPL as well as local on-site training; archivists from Sweden, Finland, Russia, Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Indonesia (as well as partners from Hungary, Germany, and Netherlands) were actively involved.
4) For in-depth training, archivists from newly established archives as well as young academics specializing in archive technology were invited to spend more time at the MPIPL (Nijmegen) to receive practical training in running an archive from the technical side (server-technology, expert software, user-interaction), as well as receiving training from the linguistic perspective (appropriate field-work tools and methodology, contents of metadata, lexicographic background, etc.) at the Linguistics department at UCO (Cologne).
5) The world-wide expert community in the archiving of linguistic and musical data has been reactivated; there were three annual conferences under the theme of “Best practice in the archiving of language and music data”, with special topics relating especially to interoperability, but also questions pertaining to sustainable funding for this kind of language and music archives. These meetings were hosted by the partners in Cologne (2012), Gniezno (2013) and Budapest (2014). All three meetings resulted in closer collaboration of the existing leading international archives (among them PARADISEC, Australia; AILLA, USA; ANA; USA; ELAR, UK, BAS, Germany; CNRS, France; AAS, Austria; as well as the TLA at the MPIPL, Netherlands.)
6) An international summer school for MA- and PhD-students was conducted that focused its courses on the technological issues of language and music archives of lesser-used languages (in Gniezno September 2013); the students came to work together with the instructors for two intensive weeks. Participating students came from many European countries, but also from Ethiopia, India, or the US. Leading scholars in their field gave lectures on technological implementations as well as linguistic background and methodology. In addition, practical tutorials were held by the same instructors so that an immediate learning effect could take place. The summer school was considered highly successful by the students, some of them keeping in close contact with the INNET project and e.g. supplying their own data to the languagesindanger-website.
7) A best practice forum has been set up to collect and disseminate results of the project as well as the wider community; here, an overview of pertinent resources relating to technology and endangered language archiving is presented.
8) In all four participating countries, the awareness of students in secondary schools on the topics of endangered languages and digital archives was surveyed, and the appropriate setting in the respective school curricula investigated;
9) A school information package was developed, and implemented in the form of a webpage (;
10) For dissemination purposes, a flyer, a project website ( as well a list with relevant conferences on the website have been produced.

Project Results:
As this project has been concerned primarily with coordination and support, there is nothing to report under this point.

Potential Impact:
The final results of the INNET project and their potential impact relate to the following areas:
- a worldwide grid of regional archives linked to The Language Archive in Nijmegen has been (re-)established, updated and expanded
- CLARIN standards and methodologies have been promoted throughout the world and productive and sustainable dialog of all parties involved in digital archiving of language resources has been (re-)established
- a portfolio of information about societal aspects of multilingualism and language use as well as about technological infrastructures in the humanities has been developed, tested for usability in schools and made publicly available
More specifically INNET has achieved:
• a blueprint for extending the CLARIN center network as a backbone of a research infrastructure in an international dimension, gathering experience in all respects (even with respect to basic aspects such as distributed authentication in the international realm) that may be reused for other research infrastructures, and is being used already in a much more extensive way than before the INNET project started. Specifically, three archiving regional centers in Tbilisi (Georgia), Manokwari (Indonesia) and Yaoundé (Cameroon) have been added to the INNET grid of archives;
• extension of the discussion about proper archiving, standardization and integration/interoperability
to an international domain where interaction between researchers and archivists is effective in both ways. This extension means that the CLARIN infrastructure will also profit from the views and approaches of our colleagues worldwide, particularly in the domain of language-related archiving where the INNET project has initiated a sustainable dialog across the major world regions;
• transfer of the discussion about research infrastructures and their core topics and solutions to other continents and thus exporting ESFRI ideas and concepts and in doing so increasing international awareness of European strategies;
• information of the general public about the latest developments in language technology resources,
with a special focus on students in high schools and BA programs

At first glance, work on and with minority and endangered languages may seem to be an exotic area.
However, the countries targeted in the regional archives of this project such as Indonesia,
India, Cameroon or Peru are subject to heavy language contact and change, and therefore cultural changes that profoundly affect
the way of life. Thus, any activity to document languages is extremely relevant. But the challenges of
multilingualism are also very present in the EU, and particularly so in the educational sector. The
current project has made a major contribution to meeting these challenges by improving the archiving infrastructure, i.e. the major resource for documenting linguistic variety. It has contributed to internationalizing methods and procedures developed in the CLARIN context. Finally it has produced a web-based information portfolio on issues regarding language endangerment, multilingualism and its cultural implications which can be used in a variety of settings and for manifold purposes, including schools and journalism.

List of Websites:

Contact for INNET: