Video elicitation of negative directives in Alaskan Dene languages: reflections on methodology

Date
2019
Authors
Lovick, Olga
Tuttle, Siri G.
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Publisher
University of Hawai'i Press
Abstract
In this paper, we describe the use of video stimuli for the targeted elicitation of negative directives in Denaakk’e (Koyukon) and Nee’andeegn’ (Upper Tanana), two severely endangered Alaskan Dene languages. Negative directives are extremely rare in our previously collected data, yet they exhibit a great variety of forms. Forms further seem to depend on several factors, particularly on whether the prohibited act violates social norms known as hʉtlaanee/įįjih. To better understand the variety of on-record and off-record forms, we created video clips showing activities violating hʉtlaanee/įįjih and activities that are merely foolish or mildly dangerous. After viewing the clips, our consultants were asked to advise the actors as if they were their grandchildren. Their responses were discussed at length with the speakers. The speakers greatly enjoyed this task and produced a great variety of on-record and off-record responses including some unusual linguistic structures. In both languages, offrecord expressions were preferred over direct ones, particularly in situations where hʉtlaanee/įįjih was involved. We also identified several conventionalized off-record strategies. The emphasis on hʉtlaanee/įįjih made the task interesting and relevant for speakers. While our stimuli are designed for work with Alaskan Dene, the method can be adapted for cultural contexts around the world.
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Citation
Lovick, Olga & Tuttle, Siri G. 2019. Video elicitation of negative directives in Alaskan Dene languages: reflections on methodology. In Lahaussois, Aimée & Vuillermet, Marine (eds.), Methodological Tools for Linguistic Description and Typology, Language Documentation & Conservation Special Publication No. 16. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.
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