Research Articles

The digital skills of language documentation

  • Robert Munro


Information technology (IT) plays an important role in language documentation (Woodbury, 2003). As language documentation is a multidisciplinary domain, it is not always easy to identify which parties need to know which IT skills. For example, the use of software supporting XML is widely recommended, but who needs to know how XML works: is it the documenter, the archivist, a software developer, a video maker, or all/none of them? As language documentation is an emerging field, it is timely to examine the nature of the IT skills required for language documentation, and to see how these might differ from related fields. There have been a number of recent papers looking at IT in language documentation from the perspective of digital archiving and data analysis, focusing on format standards, information system technologies and searching capabilities (Bird and Simons, 2003; Johnson 2004; Wittenburg and Broeder, 2002). This paper draws on them, but its primary objective is to complement them by giving an IT-informed account of the documentation itself, and so this paper is specifically intended for an audience of researchers planning or undertaking language documentation. It is assumed that the reader already possesses the linguistic knowledge and skills necessary to undertake...

Keywords: language documentation, information technology, IT skills, IT professionals, systems analysis, systems design, data modeling, consultation, elicitation, media management, data management

How to Cite:

Munro, R., (2014) “The digital skills of language documentation”, Language Documentation and Description 3, 141-156. doi:

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Published on
31 Jul 2014
Peer Reviewed