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Speaker-driven approach to language documentation

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Title:Speaker-driven approach to language documentation
Authors:Granadillo, Tania
Contributors:Granadillo, Tania (speaker)
Date Issued:14 Mar 2009
Description:In this paper I argue that given pragmatic constraints of time and resources speakers’ interests should be given priority in establishing the goals and objectives of a language documentation project. Without the collaboration of the speakers it is impossible to document a language, therefore it is only just that their interests should be prioritized. Ultimately any materials collected are useful so in collecting materials that speakers are interested in there is much to gain for all parties involved. This will allow for multiple users as well as encourage the collaborators to take an active role in the planning and design of documentation projects. This approach, termed speaker-driven approach, is exemplified by a project carried out among the Kurripako of Venezuela. Among the Kurripako there was much interest in collecting information about myths, dances and rituals as well as obtaining descriptions of cultural specific activities such as manioc bread making, canoe making, weaving and basketry. This meant seeking out specialists in these activities who still had the linguistic and cultural knowledge to provide this information. These particular interests, fueled by the socio-political circumstances of Venezuela when the project was carried out, led to a much richer database of texts as well as to having collaborators who were more engaged in the project since they felt that they also had much at stake. Such an approach is not feasible everywhere. There needs to be certain conditions for this to work. I discuss what some of these conditions are-- collaborators’ engagement, speakers interest, documenter’s predisposition among others—as well as the benefits and pitfalls that this approach carries. I also provide examples of a project among the Mapoyo of Venezuela in which this approach was not feasible.
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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