The Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America
Presented by:           Heidi Johnson , The University of Texas at Austin  
Project / Software Title:       The Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America  
Project / Software URL:  
Access / Availability:       Access to project archives requires a password which you can obtain by registering at the AILLA web site.  

I. Overview
AILLA is a digital repository of multimedia resources in and about the indigenous languages of Latin America. Resources in the archive are accessible on the Internet, through parallel interfaces in English and Spanish.

AILLA is a joint project of Anthropology (Joel Sherzer), Linguistics (Anthony Woodbury), and the Digital Library Services Division (Mark McFarland). The project was launched in March, 2000 with seed money from the University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts and is now funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Humaniities and the National Science Foundation.

II. Our mission
Our primary mission is to collect, digitize, and preserve the recorded materials in Latin American languages that have been produced by academics over the past fifty years, and make them available for indigenous language programs and further research.

We also wish to foster a network of related archives throughout Latin America, with AILLA serving as a center for technical support and a backup host for the whole network. We would like to see regional and local archives everywhere, with interfaces and services tuned to local communities, but sharing essential metadata and security protocols. AILLA will also help to connect Latin American archive projects with international organizations such as DELAN, IMDI, and OLAC.

III. The collection
The collection centers around recordings (audio and video) of discourse in a wide range of genres, including narratives, chants, conversations, ceremonies, and interviews. Most recordings are accompanied by transcriptions and translations in Spanish, English, or Portuguese. We also archive analytical works, such as grammars, sketches, and lexicons, teaching materials for bilingual education and language reclamation programs, and original literary works in indigenous languages, such as poetry, short stories, and essays. The collection presently consists of more than 5 GB of resources in 32 languages from 12 countries.

AILLA's resources come from the international academic community and from members of Latin American indigenous communities. Complete information about depositing materials with AILLA, including downloadable metadata forms, is available on our website.

IV. Metadata
AILLA uses a simplified version of the IMDI metadata schema developed at the Max-Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen. We support the standard mapping from the IMDI schema to OLAC metadata elements. The crucial concept in the IMDI schema is the bundle: an archive resource is composed of a set of related files, such as a recording in several formats accompanied by textual annotations, illustrations, etc. AILLA's metadata consists of the following:

  1. Information about the depositor: contact info, project name, sponsor, etc.
  2. Information about the principal participants in the creation of the resource:
    1. name, affiliation,& contact information.
    2. role: {annotator, author, collator, consultant, contributor, creator, depositor, editor, filmer, illustrator, interlocutor, interpreter, interviewer, performer, photographer, publisher, recorder, researcher, responder, speaker, transcriber, translator}.
    3. family/social role & sex.
  3. Genre of the central piece in the resource (e.g., a recording of a narrative): {article, ceremony, chant, commentary, conversation, correspondence, dataset, debate, description, drama, essay, exam, grammar, greeting/leave-taking, guide, history, instructions, interview, language_play, lexicon, meeting, myth, narrative, oratory, poetry, prayer, problem set, procedure, proverb, reader, recipe, sketch, song, textbook, unintelligible_speech, wordlist, workbook}.
  4. Language & language code.
  5. Information about the resource's provenance: date and place of recording.
  6. References to related materials, in the archive or in print.
  7. Information about the files in the resource: resource ID, access level & related info, size in bytes, length in minutes, number of pages, digitization specs, etc.

V. Security
Users can freely browse the metadata for AILLA's resources, but in order to access any file they must register, agree to the Terms and Conditions, and log in. Depositors can further protect sensitive materials by means of the graded access system, which provides four levels of access:

  1. Free public access.
  2. Automatic control, three protocols:
    1. Passwords offer fine or coarse control. For example, a secret word disseminated individually finely distinguishes authorized users. For coarse control, a password such as the word for 'friend' in an indigenous language, which only speakers and a few researchers would be likely to know, would let in all appropriate users, with little risk of an inappropriate user gaining access.
    2. Time limits would typically be the lifetime of a speaker, or some generally agreed upon limit for a researcher's exclusive use of data (e.g., 3 years).
    3. Conditions that the user must agree to, such as always crediting speakers by name, can be specified by depositors This control would not prevent a dishonest person from accessing a resource, but would provide electronic evidence that the user had agreed to the conditions, should a dispute arise.
  3. Depositor control. Users contact the depositor directly to ask for permission to access the resource. The depositor contacts AILLA, and archive staff adjust the user's access list. This allows depositors to know who is interested in using their materials. Most depositors will be reachable by email, so that the communication cycle can be automatically facilitated by archive software.
  4. Indigenous control. Users contact AILLA and we request permission on their behalf from the indigenous person or group that controls the resource. This allows indigenous people to know who is interested in their materials. Note that this cycle could take months, since communication with the indigenous community would most likely take place by surface mail.

VI. Contact us

Telephone: +1 512 495-4604
AILLA c/o Dr. Joel Sherzer
The University of Texas at Austin
Department of Anthropology, EPS 1.130
1 University Station C3200
Austin, Texas 78712-1086
Program Papers & Handouts Readings
Instructions for Participants
Local Arrangements
Emeld 2001 Emeld 2002 Emeld Homepage