Exploring formats and review practices of text material stemming from documentation projects

Date
2015-03-12
Authors
O'Meara, Carolyn
Romero, Rodrigo
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Much of the work published on best practices in language documentation includes recommendations for linguists to consider the creation of didactic material as part of their study (Himmelmann 2006; Nathan 2006, among others), either transforming direct output from data recorded or in some cases recording new material, generally assuming that this is couched within the notion of community-based research (Miyashita & Chatsis 2013; Rice 2011). One of the many ways in which this can take place is with the publication of texts in the language being documented. The creation of such material is aimed at addressing the general lack of it in many speaker communities, whether in the form of written texts or in general pedagogical material (Liddicoat 2007; Guerín 2008). For academic audiences, such texts are generally published in edited volumes or journals dedicated to the study of oral tradition or folklore, which follow the general procedure of peer review. However, in cases where the desired audience are members of the speaker community there is much more variety in terms of how or even if these materials get reviewed by the appropriate invested parties, i.e., native speakers. This work looks at cases of text material published in indigenous languages of Mexico, Seri (Author1 in press) and Mixe (Author2 2013), whose desired audiences are speakers of these languages, with a particular focus on the review process followed, as well as the way these texts are presented in print format. In Mexico, there are no general conventions that address the review process for text material in indigenous languages, nor the appropriate format of the texts in such works, in particular, if they should be presented bilingually and if so, in what format. In this paper, we argue for a collaborative approach to the review process of such didactic material in order to specifically target the issue of the text’s presentation, as opposed to a traditional review process that some academic institutions require. In order to address the benefits and limitations of different text formats, we look at speaker attitudes towards bilingual versions and monolingual versions of text material, as well as the realities related to local literacy, familiarization with practical orthographies, dialectal variation, as well as the consumption of such material by non-speakers and how a bilingual version might help bridge gaps between different populations. References cited Author1. In press. Comcaac coi ziix quih iti cöipactoj xah, ziix quih ocoaaj xah Hai quih pti immistaj coi iicp hac. Mexico: Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas, UNAM. Author 2. 2013. Historias mixes de Ayutla : así contaron los abuelos : Te’nte’n ja’ mëjjä’ätyëjk myatyä’äkt. Mexico: Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas, UNAM. Guérin, Valérie. 2008. Writing an endangered language. Language Documentation and Conservation 2(1):47-67. Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. 2006. Language documentation: What is it and what is it good for? In Jost Gippert, Nikolaus P. Himmelmann & Ulrike Mosel (eds.), Essentials of Language Documentation (Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 178). 363-379. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Liddicoat, A.J. (ed.) 2007. Language Planning and Literacy Multilingual Matters. Clevedon. Miyashita, Mizuki & Annabelle Chatsis. 2013. Collaborative Development of Blackfoot Language Courses. Language Documentation and Conservation 7: 302-330. Nathan, David. 2006. Thick interfaces: Mobilizing language documentation with multimedia. In Jost Gippert, Nikolaus P. Himmelmann & Ulrike Mosel (eds.), Essentials of Language Documentation (Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 178). 1-30. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Rice, Keren. 2011. Documentary Linguistics and Community Relations. Language Documentation and Conservation 5: 187-207.
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