Interdisciplinarity in areal documentation: Experiences from Lower Fungom, Cameroon

Jeffrey Good
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University of Hawai'I Press
The Lower Fungom region of Northwest Cameroon is noteworthy for its exceptional lin- guistic diversity: Seven languages, or small language clusters, are spoken in its thirteen recognized villages. This situation prompts consideration of not only standard documen- tary concerns, such as how to collect sufficient information to grammatically describe each of the regions languages, but also raises the question: What factors have allowed Lower Fungom to develop and maintain its extreme linguistic diversity? Answering this question would not only be of relevance to linguistic scholarship but also has potential applications for addressing language endangerment in other parts of the world to the extent that the maintenance of linguistic diversity in Lower Fungom provides an obvious counterexam- ple to dominant worldwide trends. This paper considers the ways in which the standard documentary toolkit has been augmented by an interdisciplinary approach to studying the region, allowing for the creation of a documentary record which covers both the synchronic features of the target languages and offers sufficient ethnographic and historical context to allow us to begin to understand what has allowed it to maintain its surprising level of di- versity. In addition to outlining key results of this interdisciplinary research, concrete rec- ommendations are provided for linguists interested in engaging in similar kinds of work.
Good, Jeff. 2020. Interdisciplinarity in areal documentation: Experiences from Lower Fungom, Cameroon. In Susan Penfield(Ed.) Approaches to Interdisciplinary Research in Language Documentation.
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