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Documentation of Hezhen (Kile), a moribund Tungusic language: Methods and principles

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Title: Documentation of Hezhen (Kile), a moribund Tungusic language: Methods and principles
Authors: Zhang, Paiyu
Matthews, Stephen
Issue Date: 14 Mar 2009
Description: Hezhen is a moribund language with less than 10 aged native speakers, but it has a comparatively rich documentary record. Such moribund languages deserve a high priority for documentation. One objective of this study is to establish a set of documentation methods and principles applicable to such languages based on the case of Hezhen. The discussion is mainly focused on sorting and evaluation of existing documents, recordings and analyses based on the moribund language, and provides processes, methods and principles of documentation for researchers, thus offering a working model of documentation. Existing documents here means those documents recorded in relatively constant and modern forms (such as audio recording, video, and transcripts in IPA, Pinyin or Chinese characters). These materials consist mainly of folk songs, oral literature and the author’s lexical field notes. This paper will be divided into two parts, covering technical processing, and selection/processing of content. With regard to technical processing, we will discuss the following questions: 1. Standardization of documentation format; 2. Construction of a corpus with part-of-speech tagging; 3. development of a concise multi-lingual Tungusic (Hezhen — Manchu — Sibe — Jurchen) glossary. In the case of Hezhen, each genre of literature (oral literature, folk songs and shaman blessings) shows distinct characteristics with respect to features such as vowel harmony, case forms, aspect, particles and word order. Regarding content selection, we will discuss the different functions and values of each genre, which include: 1. Basic vocabulary and Ancient Tungusic vowel harmony in Shaman blessings; 2. Classical grammar (such as: special particle usage, suffixes as aspect marker, special word orders) and prosodic change (stem and suffix change) in folk songs; 3. Modern grammar/phonology principles of Hezhen in oral literature; 4. Loanwords and their adaptation (such as lexicalization and phonological change) in each genre.
Rights: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
Appears in Collections:1st International Conference on Language Documentation and Conservation (ICLDC)

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