Endangered domains, thematic documentation and grammaticography

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2014-12
Authors
Terrell, Jacob
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University of Hawai'i Press
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Abstract
When setting out to document a language with the intended goal of describing it (typically through a grammar and dictionary), fieldworkers prefer to collect an array of linguistic data, ranging from elicited words and paradigms to an assortment of texts based on conversa- tions, narratives, procedures and so forth. Capturing a wide variety of speech acts provides a clearer record of the language and its use, and thus offers the potential for a richer description of the language at hand. However, without controlling for content, one may collect linguistic data based on an open-ended amount of topics or themes. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce the notion of endangered linguistic domains and themes in language documentation and description. Even in thriving minority languages, domains such as indigenous music or knowledge of flora and fauna come under pressure from the same forces that eventually lead to language endangerment. Gathering linguistic data based on a particular domain or specialized knowledge can generate a corpus applicable to a wider audience without sacrificing the needs of linguists. Similar to thematic dictionaries in lexicography, this introduces thematic grammars to grammaticography.
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Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License
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