Language Documentation & Conservation, vol. 5 (2011)

Contributions to LD&C are now published upon acceptance. Here are all the contributions accepted for volume 5.


Integrating Documentation and Formal Teaching of Kari’nja: Documentary Materials as Pedagogical Materials
Racquel-María Yamada, pp. 1–30

In response to the loss of more traditional modes of transmission and decreased contexts of use, members of many endangered language communities have begun revitalization programs that include formal teaching. Linguistic documentation of these languages often occurs independently of revitalization efforts and is largely led by outsider academics. Separation of documentation and revitalization is unnecessary. In fact, the two endeavors can readily support and strengthen each other. This paper describes the process of concurrently creating formal teaching materials and a documentary corpus of Kari’nja, an endangered Cariban language of Suriname. Activities described embody the Community Partnerships Model (CPM), a methodological approach to linguistic fieldwork that is collaborative and speech community-based. The work described herein represents a small portion of an ongoing documentation, description, and revitalization program.

Puana ‘Ia me ka ‘Oko‘a: A Comparative Analysis of Hawaiian Language Pronunciation as Spoken and Sung
Joseph Keola Donaghy, pp. 107-133

In this paper I argue that the differences between spoken Hawaiian and vocal performance of western-influenced “traditional” Hawaiian music are representative of the linguistic diversity found within the Hawaiian language. It contains a comparative analysis of Hawaiian Language Pronunciation as Spoken and Sung, using transcriptions of recorded examples by John Kameaaloha Almeida, a native speaker of the Hawaiian language and a prominent composer, singer, and instrumentalist. It will provide a phonemic analysis of notable and predictable variations heard in Hawaiian language vocal performances that are not heard in spoken Hawaiian. Further, it will show that rhythmic arrangement of morae over strong beats in the musical measure is largely analogous to accent in spoken Hawaiian, with some predictable exceptions. The paper also documents how, during his vocal performance, Almeida added three non-lexical vocables not heard in spoken Hawaiian. I argue that these characteristics and variation are indicative of the linguistic diversity found within the Hawaiian language and, as such, are worthy of the same attention and scholarly scrutiny as spoken Hawaiian. The second goal of this applied research is to present the results in a manner that is accessible to practitioners of Hawaiian language performance.

‘Auto-documentación Lingüística’: La experiencia de una comunidad Jodï en la Guayana Venezolana
Miguel Marcello Quatra, pp. 134-156

This article describes a self-directed project of linguistic documentation that was carried out over a five-year period in an indigenous Jodï community of the Venezuelan Guayana. The project was somewhat unique in that members of the local community were themselves responsible for producing documentary materials of their own language. The main results of this work include the compilation of the first Jodï-Spanish bilingual dictionary and the creation of an ethno-historical and cultural multimedia archive, with 79 hours of audio and video recordings stored at the local community. Reflecting on this experience, the author argues that more emphasis and support needs to be given to language ‘self-documentation’, in which the speech community acts as both principal investigator/compiler and user. A local community-centered approach offers an alternative that addresses certain unresolved issues in the practice of language documentation. Furthermore, it would make this activity more relevant to the larger issues of supporting the diversity of life on earth and enhancing the quality of life for human populations at the local and global levels.

“Unknown Unknowns” and the Retrieval Problem in Language Documentation and Archiving
Gary Holton, 157-168

One of the major motivations driving the field of documentary linguistics is the need to create a lasting record of language that can be (re)used by both speakers and linguists. However, the mere act of language documentation does not guarantee that the products of documentation are accessible. This retrieval problem can result in a false belief that a language has been adequately documented—what I refer to as an unknown unknown. This paper illustrates unknown unknowns with examples drawn from the field of place names documentation, touching briefly on unknown unknowns in other areas of language documentation. The paper concludes with some suggestions as to how to mitigate against the retrieval problem.

Biology in Language Documentation
Aung Si, 169-186

The fields of ethnobiology and language documentation have much to offer each other, but for the moment, there are few signs of engagement between practitioners of the two disciplines. In this paper, I argue that projects that seek to document endangered languages can benefit by focusing on the semantic domain of traditional biological and ecological knowledge (TEK), and by engaging in collaborative projects with ethnobiologists. In doing so, researchers not only produce a rich corpus that is culturally relevant and valuable to the language community, but also record information about the natural world that may be of interest to researchers in other fields. The TEK encoded in a language is best and most easily observed in the specialized vocabulary that speakers may employ when talking about various natural phenomena. However, a community’s knowledge of their biological environment extends far beyond the lexicon and into the domain of complex ecological relationships among different organisms. Using examples from my fieldwork in southern India, I argue that it is possible to capture such knowledge in a language documentation program. Other criteria for a good documentation, such as the inclusion of a wide range of speech genres, can also be met while eliciting TEK from language consultants.

Documentary Linguistics and Community Relations
Keren Rice, 187-207

In recent years, there has been a growing focus in linguistics on community-based research. In this paper, I summarize how community-based research is defined, and then address community-based research from two perspectives. I begin with a perspective that is sometimes heard in universities, and sometimes by colleagues in linguistics as well: that community-based research is not really research, but rather community service. I discuss some of the fallacies in this conclusion, examining how traditional types of linguistic research can grow out of community-based work as well as addressing the types of new research topics that might emerge from this type of paradigm. I then switch the focus and ask what community-based research might mean from the perspective of a community, and who controls the research.

To BOLDly Go Where No One Has Gone Before
Brenda Boerger, 208-233

In this article, I report on a survey designed as the first step in testing claims made regarding the potential of Basic Oral Language Documentation (BOLD) for addressing the urgency of the documentation task. BOLD was developed in response to a number of language documentation challenges, its aim being to design a time-effective way to obtain a core data corpus, thereby allowing for more endangered languages to be documented faster. After providing background about BOLD and its claims, I report on its use in six field projects which had varying durations and goals. These preliminary results confirm BOLD’s overall soundness, while suggesting minor adjustments in design and protocols. I invite the language documentation community to participate in BOLD in three ways: (1) make BOLD corpora of undocumented languages a funding priority, (2) use it and require it of students, and (3) help refine BOLD best practices. Since the current rate of new documentations is not keeping pace with language loss, it is only by adopting this or a similar strategy that speech practices of communities around the world can be documented before it is too late.

Notes from the Field

Maranao: A Preliminary Phonological Sketch with Supporting Audio
Jason William Lobel and Labi Hadji Sarip Riwarung, pp. 31–59

(Both pdfs without embedded sound files and separate WAV versions of sound files are archived in ScholarSpace.)

Technology Reviews

Review of NVivo 8
by Alex Rath, pp. 60–65

Review of JVC GY-HM100U HD video camera and FFmpeg libraries
by Jeremy Hammond, pp. 69-80

Review of Phon: Free Software for Phonological Transcription and Analysis
by Heather Buchan, pp. 81-87

Review of ANVIL: Annotation of Video and Language Data 5.0
by Ning Tan and Jean-Claude Martin, pp. 88-94

Review of WordSmith Tools
by D.J Prinsloo and Daniel Prinsloo, pp. 95-106

Book Review

Claire Bowern, Linguistic Fieldwork: A Practical Guide
Reviewed by Lameen Souag, pp. 66-68