Eleme Language Documentation Project
The Eleme-Baan Languages Project is directed by Dr. Greg Anderson and Dr. Oliver Bond, currently of SOAS, London. It was funded in 2003 by a grant from the University of Manchester and by grants from the ESRC to Oliver Bond.
The Baan Language Project
The Baan Documentation Project addresses the Baan language, a sister of Eleme. Baan or Ogoi is a Benue-Congo (Cross-River, Ogonoid) language spoken by fewer than 5,000 people in but one village in the Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers State, Nigeria. Virtually no data is available on this language to the broader academic or educational public, but what little data is available suggests that it is rather different than Eleme (Bond and Anderson 2005), despite the fact that among the Eleme, this language is considered a mere ‘dialect’ and not worthy of study in its own right.
This kind of negative local attitude to a language is instrumental in determining its status as an endangered language, as negative stigma associated with a particular speech variety usually lead to its use being associated with a lack of socio-economic power and mobility, furthering its eroding within its own community (parents choose not to teach their ancestral language to their children since they believe it will cause their children problems economically).
The Living Tongues Baan project sets out its goals as the following: to document the basic words and structures of this virtually unknown language and to demonstrate once and for all that it is a separate language, thereby engendering a sense of identity within the multi-ethnic and multilingual milieu it is currently situated within.
Furthermore, we seek to develop a means of maintaining this language within a non-educational context through the establishment of a Baan Cultural Center where elders and others interested in maintaining and promoting Baan ethnolinguistic identity may do so without worry. This cultural center will start by housing a video player to watch the multi-media documentation materials, and a trilingual talking (online) Baan-Eleme-English dictionary to serve as a reference point for all to demonstrate emphatically the non-identity of Baan with Eleme.
|Map of Rivers State and More Information on Baan|
Bond, Oliver and Gregory D. S. Anderson. 2005. Divergent Structure in Ogonoid Languages. In Berkeley Linguistic Society 31. Berkeley: BLS.