As one of two resettlement cities in Idaho, Boise welcomes about 1,100 refugees each year. Our city’s newest residents bring with them new cultures and a variety of languages not otherwise heard in Idaho. Due to the conditions that often cause refugees to flee their homeland, many of the languages spoken by these new Americans are in danger of becoming extinct in the near future. Over the past four years, faculty and students at Boise State University have been working with members of the refugee community to document these languages through the Boise Language Project, which integrates teaching, research, and community service.
The Languages of Boise is a web app that will allow service providers and community members to better communicate with refugees in more effective, culturally appropriate ways. The app contains language and cultural resources based on information we have gathered from a wide variety of online sources and from speakers of the languages right here in Boise.
In addition to information about the language and culture, we are also developing a small collection of frequently used words and phrases, which will be translated and recorded into each of our local refugee languages. Our project is maintained by linguistics faculty and students at Boise State University, with the support of our Community Advisory Board — service providers and community members who wish to help empower refugees and New Americans.
In order to make this project a reality, we held a crowdfunding campaign to pay for the development and hosting of the website, as well as to pay our language consultants and interpreters for their time and knowledge. We want all members of the Boise community to use and benefit from this resource and with this funding we can make it free for everyone. Although our PonyUp campaign is now over, you can still make a gift to the project by donating to the Mary Ellen Ryder Linguistics Lab by following the link below: