Event Date: 19th February 2022


Every documentation project is unique in itself. A language documenter takes a tough job of not only saving a language and its cultural history by means of documentation efforts but is also representing a community by actually being, or, trying to be, a part of it. Thus, a language documentation project is a commitment which entails a long-term relationship with the community whose language is being studied or documented. The purpose of this webinar is to discuss the various steps, methods, and techniques involved in the documentation and revitalization of the so-called endangered languages and analyze the various different challenges encountered in this exercise, stressing the need for an integrated framework which treats each language situation as distinctive or unique. The framework considers not only the various important criteria for language documentation and revitalization in agreement with the latest developments with regard to the technological aspects of this enterprise, but also assesses the effectiveness of these various techniques, leaving room for modification and adjustment. In doing so, Dr. Sadaf Munshi presents a progress report of her on-going work on the documentation and revitalization of two endangered languages of Pakistan – viz., Burushaski (a language isolate spoken mainly in the northern areas of Pakistan (and by a small number of people in Srinagar (India)) and Mankiyali (a highly endangered language spoken by about 500 people in the Mansehra district of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Sadaf Munshi is a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Linguistics at the University of North Texas. She specializes on Indo-Iranian languages with a strong interest and background in Kashmiri, Burushaski, Hindi/Urdu, Romani, Mankiyali, Sanskrit and Persian.

Her research areas include language documentation, historical and comparative linguistics, language contact, language and conflict, poetics and verbal arts, and grammatical analysis and theory. She works on South Asian languages, such as Burushaski (a linguistic isolate and an endangered language of Gilgit-Baltistan and parts of Srinagar), Kashmiri (her native tongue), Hindi/Urdu, and Mankiyali (a highly endangered language of northern Pakistan’s Khyber Phakhtunkhwa Province).

She has done extensive fieldwork in India and Pakistan as part of her documentation research. Her doctoral research at the University of Texas at Austin resulted into her recent book published in 2019 which is a descriptive and comparative account on Srinagar Burushaski, a previously undocumented and lesser-known variety of Burushaski (Brill Publication: Boston| Leiden).

Dr. Munshi’s research has been funded by several grants from the National Science Foundation. The outcomes of her documentation work on Burushaski and Mankiyali are available in the form of digital corpora housed at the UNT Digital Library. More recently, she has started exploring and documenting the endangered poetic traditions of Kashmir and its surrounding areas.

Among the courses that she has regularly taught at UNT are: Historical Linguistics, Phonology, Field Methods, Language Contact, History of English Language, World Englishes, Tools for Language Documentation, and Romani Language and Culture.

The larger goal of her research is to build lasting collaborations, infrastructure and capacity in areas, which pose a number of social, political and cultural challenges and obstacles.