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Seeking new paradigms for collaboration: Results from a study of field linguists

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Title: Seeking new paradigms for collaboration: Results from a study of field linguists
Authors: Robinson, Laura
Issue Date: 02 Mar 2013
Description: Collaboration is becoming the widely-accepted best practice in linguistic fieldwork (Grenoble 2010), but most work theorizing collaborative endangered language presents case studies (e.g., Dobrin 2008, Guérin and Lecrampe 2010, Yamada 2007), and the majority of these researchers are working in Australia and the Americas (e.g., Czaykowska-Higgins 2009, Grinevald 2003, Rice 2006, 2010). This paper will present the results of a survey of over 200 field linguists who conduct linguistic fieldwork all over the world to show that collaborative research practices are not evenly distributed. The most common types of collaboration reported by survey takers were: (1) changing a plan of research to meet community needs (55% of survey respondents), (2) participating in language revitalization or maintenance activities (53%), and (3) training community members in some way (52%). In contrast, only 17% of survey respondents had co-authored a paper with a community member who did not have a graduate degree and only 8% had helped a community member obtain a degree in linguistics or another language related discipline. The survey results show that collaborative language research is more frequent if (1) the research is conducted in Canada, the United States, or Australia, (2) the language has clearly identifiable community leaders, and (3) the language research was initiated by speakers (i.e., the linguist became involved only after community members reached out). Furthermore, linguists are more likely to engage in collaborative research if they already have a PhD and have been working on a language for a long time. Interestingly, collaborative research was less likely if the linguist-researcher was also a community member. Finally, this paper will suggest some explanations for the observed correlations. It will be suggested that collaborative research is easier if the outsider-linguist shares some cultural background with the community. Moreover, if an outsider-linguist builds relationships in the community over many years, then collaborative research is easier. In contrast, insider-linguists coming from the community are constrained by social and political obligations within the community that prevent them from seeking collaborative research relationships.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:3rd International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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