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Chimariko grammar based solely on archival material

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Title:Chimariko grammar based solely on archival material
Authors:Jany, Carmen
Contributors:Jany, Carmen (speaker)
Date Issued:12 Mar 2015
Description:One of the main disadvantages for grammar writing solely based on archival materials is the inability to collect additional data for verification purposes and to fill gaps. For some languages, however, archives represent the only source of data available to communities and linguists today. California has historically been characterized by a great deal of linguistic diversity (Golla 2011). During the decades prior and following the turn of the twentieth century, John P. Harrington extensively documented many of these native California languages, collecting a considerable amount of elicited material and connected speech (Golla 2011). This paper examines the utilization of Harrington’s archival data for the purpose of grammar writing for the extinct northern California language Chimariko.

For Chimariko, the data collected by Harrington in the 1920s (Mills 1985) is crucial for the development of a reference grammar (Author 2009). While Dixon (1910) had attempted to create a grammatical sketch prior to Harrington’s field work, his description lacks detail and is significantly flawed due to phonological inaccuracies (Sapir 1911), proving Harrington’s work invaluable. Consisting of both, elicitation and connected speech in the form of oral narratives, Harrington’s data allows for a detailed analysis of the complex and typologically uncommon grammatical relations system based on agents and patients and person hierarchies, in addition to providing the necessary data for a phonological analysis and the examination of clause combining and discourse structure.

This paper reports on the process of grammar writing from these archival materials, as well as on content selection and organization of the grammar. The complementary functions of elicited versus naturally occurring data are also discussed, in addition to gaps in the analysis due to lack of data. This work reveals that grammar writing is possible even when the data is limited and presents specific examples from the Chimariko grammar.

To conclude, this work highlights the importance of archival material for languages with no or a small number of current speakers and shows how such data provides linguists with a good record for describing the structures of languages like Chimariko. For contemporary communities, this provides an excellent record on which to base possible language revitalization efforts.
Rights:Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections: 4th International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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