Friday, October 12, 2012

Arjeplog field work: On documentary linguistics

Joshua Wilbur, Kristina Kotcheva Rießler and Michael Rießler started the seminar with a presentation of documentary lingustics.

Wilbur cited  Himmelmann  2006, and said that what we create when we document a language is in fact a "multi purpose record of a language". The outcome of your research may serve not only linguistic purposes. A lot of the material that you gather is more or less linguistic, but metadata and – for instance – the actual content of the recordings might very well be used for other types of research, but also by the languages speakers themselves – depending on whether the data may be accessed by the public or not.

Letting the speakers of an endangered language get access to the data collected can be considered one way to give something back a speech community that has helped you with your research. (There are of course legal and ethical considerations that you need to take into consideration, when you decide who gets access to the data collected, but if it is possible.).

Some challenges with documenting a language were addressed. One of these is how we get this multi purpose documentation of spoken language to be long lasting.  We do need to take into consideration that our data must be in a format that may be read, also in the future, when the formats that we work with today may have become outdated. Also, it is important to use formats that may be easily shared.

Quoting Michael Rießler: "If it's not accessible, it's not really archived. It's just stored."

In the middle of the day Øystein Vangsnes (and to some extent me) presented and problematised the work that lies behind the Nordic Dialect Corpus and Database, and the entire group discussed methodology in collecting linguistic data, in particular how to go aboout when doing huge questionnaires with new informants.

The last part of the afternoon was used to practice using ELAN, a tool for annotation of recordings.

/Maia Andréasson

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