The conference was pretty egalitarian, with research presented by both younger students and seasoned academics. Consequently the quality of the presentations varied considerably, but this struck me as a good thing. Most of the attendees were Nepalis, but there were a handful of foreign linguists from Pakistan, Finland, India, England and the US. There were a few people from SIL and a representative from the Ethnologue. All presentations and discussion were conducted in English. Individual conversations were usually in Nepali, but I also heard a lot of English and Hindi.
Many of the introductory and closing speeches focused on Nepal's unique responsibility as a nation with many endangered languages, and how linguistic work is important to the government's policies of creating a federal republic. A lot of the presentations were of ongoing research into the description of minority languages. There was a lot of discussion of the Linguistic Survey of Nepal, and the difficulties that it has been facing.
Anyway, these were a few of my favorite topics:
- Bhojpuri in Nepalese Education - Apparently before the One Language One Nation policy, primary education was conducted in the Bhojpuri language in certain areas.
- Common Discourse Particles in Nepali - I learned a lot about when Nepalis use the focusing particle chaaí. The presentation lead to some lively discussions of Nepali and English filler words and how new ones arise over time (like like in English and tapaaíko in Nepali) and whether they should be included ias a part of language instruction.
- Code-switching in English and Nepali between Nepali-American teenagers
- Teaching English in the Nepali Context - It mentioned the dangers of relying too heavily on native speakers and foreign advisors in teaching English, and was interestingly presented by my own TOEFL teacher. I like the question "Does a language only belong to its native speakers?"
- Consonants in Ghale - I was glad that there was at least one phonology paper. Apparently Nepal is a good place to do phonology because not many people focus on it here.
- A Project on the Baraam Language - This was a massive three year project to document a language with less than 50 speakers (who are all over 50). They are also creating a textbook and a grammar. Their description made me nostalgic for the Texas German Dialect Project.
Unfortunately I missed several presentations because there were two lecture halls and presentations were never in the order written in the program. If you are interested in any of these topics email me and I can perhaps give you more information on what I learned.
I doubt many linguistic-y types read this blog, though, so for most of you this was probably one of my more boring posts.