CLIS-Russian student spends summer preserving endangered languages
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Ashlie Devenney, CLIS-Russian and Linguistics double major, was awarded a competitive internship opportunity with Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages. Living Tongues Institute is a leading research organization with teams around the globe who are dedicated to preserving minority and endangered languages.

As one of five interns in the summer 2020 cohort, Devenney will spend six weeks utilizing technology and linguistics to annotate oral texts in Munda languages (a family of tribal languages spoken in India).

“I will be annotating sound files that have been pulled from a speaker of one of the variants of the Sora language in India. I’ll also caption and put together the archive for the language,” Devenney stated. Her other duties will include establishing a virtual linguistics library, editing language data on maps, and assisting researchers with organizational tasks related to minority language preservation around the globe.

“It’s been my dream for years to work with [Living Tongues Institute].” Devenney cites the Emmy-nominated documentary film The Linguists, which features researchers from Living Tongues Institute, as inspiration for her decision to study linguistics at UTA. “This is exactly the path that I want to take.”

This summer Devenney is also working with WebiLang, an international language school based in Omsk, Siberia, as a teaching intern. She hopes that her studies in Russian and linguistics will lead to a career in the preservation of endangered languages in Siberia and remote parts of Russia. The work she’s doing with Living Tongues Institute this year is a big step to advance her career goals.

“Ashlie is the student every teacher wants in their class. She’s very serious in her studies, enjoys challenging tasks, and has amazing linguistic skills,” said Iya Price, coordinator of the Russian program in the Department of Modern Languages. “I expect that she will have many fulfilling opportunities in her career.”