Volume 06 : Language Documentation & Conservation

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Language Documentation & Conservation is a fully refereed, open-access journal sponsored by the National Foreign Language Resource Center and published exclusively in electronic form by the University of Hawai’i Press.

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 15
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    On Being a Linguist and Doing Linguistics: Negotiating Ideology through Performativity
    (University of Hawaii Press, 2012-12) Stebbins, Tonya
    In this paper I explore and contrast the multiple positions available to me as a linguist, both within the academy and in the communities where I do fieldwork. These domains make quite different demands on me in my professional practice. In my experience, transitioning between these domains can be challenging, since the assumptions about my identity and role are divergent and often conflicting. I use the concept of performativity to identify the different positions I enact and which are attributed to me in each of these roles. I suggest that rather than seeing a binary division between academia and community, it may be useful to conceive of our work with communities as occurring in a third space that is shared by members of the relevant community, but which is distinct from the community per se. Such a distinction provides space for both linguists and communities to negotiate the extent to which ideas, methods, and ideologies from one field are expected to infiltrate another. The advantage of such a model is that it allows everyone involved to recognize and, where appropriate, engage with the frameworks of others. This facilitates a richer understanding of the forces at play in language development work and allows competing priorities a place in the process.
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    One Community's Post-Conflict Response to a Dictionary Project
    (University of Hawaii Press, 2012-12) Hill, Deborah
    It may seem that dictionaries would be a low priority for communities struggling with recent ethnic conflict, rapid social change, and economic hardship. However, the potential for dictionaries to have a positive effect on a community’s self-esteem has been noted for Melanesian societies. Furthermore, the potential for managing social change may also underpin a dictionary project. This paper describes the initial response to a dictionary project in a Solomon Islands community and how the community decided to combine lexicography with the revitalization of traditional crafts. The community’s decision to link the revitalization of cultural skills to the dictionary project moved the project firmly into the community’s hands and allowed them to conceive of a future that promotes the maintenance of language and culture. While there is no certainty about the success of the community’s plans, the energy and optimism evident in these initial stages of the project support the general assertion that dictionaries can play a role in increasing the self-esteem of a language community. Within the context of a new, national-level languages policy, the dictionary project is also expected to play a concrete role in language and culture maintenance. The factors impacting self-esteem and language maintenance also have implications for other small language communities.
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    Notes from the Field: Chicahuaxtla Triqui Digital Wordlist and Preliminary Observations
    (University of Hawaii Press, 2012-10) Elliott, A. Raymond ; Sandoval Cruz, Fulgencio ; Santiago Rojas, Felipe
    This article presents a 200-item list consisting of words and sample sentences from Chicahuaxtla Triqui, an Otomanguean language spoken in San Andrés Chicahuaxtla in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico. The wordlists include broad phonetic transcriptions, English glosses, Spanish cues, individual WAV recordings, and comments. Since the key to understanding Chicahuaxtla Triqui lies in the ability to distinguish tone, the list is divided into two parts: 1) a section consisting of minimal pairs with contrastive phonemic tone and/or lexical items illustrating other interesting phonological characteristics, such as tone, fortis-lenis contrasts, prenasalized velars/pre-voicing, and velar onset nasals; and 2) lexical items that evidence tonal contours but may or may not operate contrastively in the language. To date the files have not been deposited into an institutional archive, however, the present researchers plan to do so once the data are properly categorized. This project involves San Andrés Chicahuaxtla leaders, teachers, community members in addition to researchers, and graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Texas at Arlington. These digital files represent one of a number of ways to increase access not only for the Triqui community members and leaders who are interested in language conservation efforts, but also for linguists, researchers, and students who wish to learn more about the Otomanguean stock of languages.
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    Dominant Language Transfer in Minority Language Documentation Projects: Some Examples from Brunei
    (University of Hawai'i Press, 2012-09) Clynes, Adrian
    Language documentation often takes place in contexts of heavy language contact, where there is a shift in progress from a minority language to another culturally dominant language. For many younger speakers, the language of their parents is increasingly acquired as a second language, and their communication in this second language shows classic transfer effects, where transfer is “[a] general cover term for a number of different kinds of influence from languages other than the target language” on a learner’s acquisition of that target language (Ellis 1994:341). However, transfer can also been seen as a more pervasive phenomenon, “a constraint imposed by previous knowledge on a more general process, that of inferencing” (Schachter 1992:44). Considered in this light, transfer can influence far more than a given learner’s interlanguage. Assumptions, attitudes, and conceptual models associated with a culturally dominant language can all unconsciously influence assumptions made about minority languages. These can, in turn, affect various strategic decisions made in the documentation of such languages, including whether a given variety should be documented, which speakers should be recorded, which text types to collect, what orthography to use, even what constitutes a genuine feature of the lexis, phonology, morphology, and so on. This paper aims primarily to illustrate this phenomenon, and to explore ways of dealing with it. Dominant language influence needs to be taken into account at each stage of the documentation process, minimizing it where it is intrusive, and taking advantage of it where it can be of use.
The copyright for all articles published by Language Documentation & Conservation are held by their respective authors. All works are made available through a Creative Commons license.