Illustrating Literacy Materials for Endangered Languages: Ethical Dilemmas and Artistic Trials

Main Article Content

Joan Marie Kelly
Alexander R. Coupe
František Kratochvíl
Lim Qixuan
Ng Xiao Yan
Ong Han Yu
Amos Teo
Lauren Gawne


The creation and dissemination of literacy materials supports the vitality of vulnerable languages and is essential to the survival of more than half of the world’s languages that lack writing systems and literacy materials entirely. This paper evaluates an interdisciplinary collaborative project titled Visualizing Languages, focusing on four communities in South and Southeast Asia for whom literacy materials were developed within a university art educational program. The project involved a team of linguists, student illustrators, an artist mentor, and community members. This interdisciplinary team collaborated with native speakers to create bilingual children’s books representing important traditional narratives, with each story accompanied by rich illustrations incorporating the cultural heritage of the community. Our aim here is to describe and evaluate the workflow, in the hope that it might serve as a model for other teams considering a similar approach to preserving intangible cultural heritage.

Language documentation, literacy materials, sustaining languages, endangered languages

Article Details

How to Cite
Kelly, J. M., Coupe, A. R., Kratochvíl, F., Qixuan, L., Yan, N. X., Yu, O. H., Teo, A., & Gawne, L. (2021). Illustrating Literacy Materials for Endangered Languages: Ethical Dilemmas and Artistic Trials. Asian Journal of Sociological Research, 5(3), 39-58. Retrieved from
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