Tag Archives: Fieldwork
7/07 Examples in Revitalization Fieldwork – Anishinaabemowin in the Great Lakes

July 7, 2013, 10 am – 1 pm
2407 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: Meg Noori (mnoori@umich.edu)

See Workshop Description

This workshop will focus on the tools and techniques of language revitalization. The workshop will focus on Anishinaabemowin, an endangered North American language.  Used in several provinces and states in the US and Canada, Anishinaabemowin is the heritage language of over 200 native nations.  Although there are numerous dialects, it provides the structural core of language shared by Potawatomi, Ojibwe and Odawa people, also known as the Three Fires Confederacy.  For hundreds of years, the language has been written by traders, translators and teachers.  Despite its widespread history and level of literacy, Anishinaabemowin declined in use during colonization and only recently has the younger generation begun seeking ways to incorporate it into their daily lives.

Fieldwork in Anishinaabemowin requires a strong awareness of dialect similarities and differences as well as generational variance in use and support.  All contacts need to be placed in historical and cultural context in order to maximize the potential use of any linguistic data gathered.  We will talk about phonological, as well as ethnographic data.  We will also look at how to best capture important information while meeting both the linguists’ needs as well as the cultural and curricular needs of the community.

With a particular emphasis on song, ceremony and poetics, we will listen to lyrics from the early 1900s, mid 1900s and the present and attempt to document important linguistic and cultural detail.  Questions for discussion will include: What meta-data is important to gather about recordings?  How can data not volunteered be surmised and respected? What phonological elements vary and how does linguistic and folk representation of sound impact an archive? How can speakers and scholars combine their knowledge of morphological elements?

Lastly, we will talk about the politics of representation and preservation and explore some of the ways Anishinaabemowin is archived at the University of Michigan in Deep Blue, the Bentley Library, in linguistics and language curriculum and on www.ojibwe.net and Facebook.

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7/16 Lyle Campbell (Collitz Professor): “Contributions from Endangered Language Documentation to Outstanding Issues in Historical Linguistics”

 

Lyle Campbell, University of Hawai’i, Manoa
2013 Linguistic Institute Hermann and Klara H. Collitz Professor
Tuesday, July 16, 2013, 7:00 pm
Askwith Auditorium, Lorch Hall
Reception to follow

Read Abstract

The goal of this talk is to explore the relationship between Endangered Languages and Language Change (historical linguistics).

(1) I survey the number of known extinct languages and what that implies for historical linguistic research in general — 22% of all known extinct languages become extinct in the last 50 years. Of the c.420 independent language families and isolates, exactly 100 are extinct – nearly 25% of the linguistic diversity of the world has been lost forever. (2) I review the relationship between fieldwork documentation and the working out of aspects of the history of language families, including instances in the history of Indo-European. (3) I investigate the kinds of changes encountered in endangered languages and attempt to evaluate claims about what this means for language change in general and for language typology – for example, I address the claim that sound change in endangered language contexts need not be regular. (4) I look at a specific language documentation project involving several languages of the Chaco region of South America, noting discoveries there that go against general thinking about what is possible in contact induced change, and presenting other cases that provide insights into other aspects of language change.

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Field Methods

Keren Rice – University of Toronto
Course time: Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday 3:30-5:20
2437 Mason Hall
Note: This class may count for double credit.

See Course Description

This course is an introduction to linguistic field methods. We will work with a speaker of a language that none of us know, endeavoring to discover as much as possible about the structure of the language, at all levels – phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic – through a combination of structured questioning and working with texts that we will record from the speaker. The emphasis will be on how to discover the systematicity of an unknown language on its own terms.

Prerequisite: Background in linguistics. Students should be able to transcribe, do morphological analysis, and syntactic analysis.

Recommended co-requisite: Tools for Language Documentation (Claire Bowern)

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Semantic Fieldwork Methods

Judith Tonhauser – Ohio State University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 1:30-3:20 pm
2347 Mason Hall

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This course introduces participants to the methodology of collecting semantic/pragmatic data in collaboration with linguistically untrained native speaker consultants.

Data that may inform semantic/pragmatic theorizing are typically quite complex, consisting of 1) one or more grammatical sentences that are 2) uttered in an appropriately designed context, and 3) a native speaker’s judgment about the acceptability or the truth of the sentence(s) uttered in that context.

The goal of the course is to familiarize students with the empirical, theoretical and methodological considerations relevant to obtaining such data. In particular, topics to be discussed include the kinds of judgments obtainable from native speakers, distinguishing syntactically ill-formed from semantically/pragmatically anomalous sentences/utterances, the importance of context and how to appropriately control for it, reporting semantic/pragmatic data, and the generalizability of results.

The course also examines the benefits of and difficulties with exploring semantic/pragmatic research questions through texts. The relative merits of one-on-one elicitation and controlled experiments with linguistically untrained native speakers are also considered.

Although much of the data provided for in-class discussion comes from Paraguayan Guaraní (Tupí-Guaraní), in particular studies of temporal and nominal reference, and of presuppositions and other projective contents, the course aims to prepare participants to conduct semantic/pragmatic fieldwork on any topic in any language. Note that this course does not have a regular practical component during which course participants work with a native speaker consultant; Professor Keren Rice’s field methods course (http://lsa2013.lsa.umich.edu/2012/05/field-methods/) is highly recommended for this purpose.

This course is targeted at students already familiar with formal syntax, semantics and pragmatics who wish to collect data with native speakers, as well as students who already have experience in conducting research with native speakers and want to extend their research to semantic/pragmatic topics. Interested course participants should contact the instructor (judith@ling.osu.edu) with questions about the course content and suitability.

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Tools for Language Documentation

Claire Bowern – Yale University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
2330 Mason Hall

See Course Description

This four-week course will cover a selection of the software, hardware, and stimulus kits/surveys which are most useful in documenting languages. The course will begin with an overview of software tools for organizing language data, including Toolbox and Elan, and hardware (e.g. audio and video recorders) for making recordings. Week 2 will focus on tools related to grammatical documentation (e.g. in the writing of reference grammars) and will include the use of structured stimulus kits, questionnaires, and tools for organizing transcripts and analytical data. Week 3 will focus on corpus planning and the collection of narratives and conversational data. Week 4 will concentrate on software and techniques for lexical elicitation, along with collection archiving. Each class will have a practical component and class participants are encouraged to bring their own data sets; however, data samples will also be available for those who need them. Some familiarity with general linguistics is presumed.

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