Mark Brown has a story at The Guardian about Stephen Pax Leonard, a Cambridge University researcher who’s off to Greenland to document the language and traditions of an Inuit community:
Leonard, an anthropological linguist, is to spend a year living with the Inughuit people of north-west Greenland, a tiny community whose members manage to live a similar hunting and gathering life to their ancestors. They speak a language – the dialect is called Inuktun – that has never fully been written down, and they pass down their stories and traditions orally.
“Climate change means they have around 10 or 15 years left,” said Leonard. “Then they’ll have to move south and in all probability move in to modern flats.” If that happens, an entire language and culture is likely to disappear.[…]
The Inughuits thought they were the world’s only inhabitants until an expedition led by the Scottish explorer John Ross came across them in 1818.
Unlike other Inuit communities they were not significantly influenced by the arrival of Christianity in Greenland – so they retain elements of a much older, shamanic culture […] Their language is regarded as something of a linguistic “fossil” and one of the oldest and most “pure” Inuit dialects.[…]
Leonard intends to record the Inughuits and, rather than writing a grammar or dictionary, produce an “ethnography of speaking” to show how their language and culture are interconnected. The recordings will be digitised and archived and returned to the community in their own language.
I’m not sure why creating an “ethnography of speaking” would keep you from writing a grammar or dictionary, which it seems to me could be useful to the community as well, but I wish him well in his frigid journey (“Although the average temperature is −25C, it can plummet to −40 or soar to zero in the summer”). Thanks, Doc Rock and Paul!