Urituyacu River, Loreto, Peru

Fieldwork Forum (FForum)

Department of Linguistics
University of California, Berkeley

When?Tuesdays 9:30am - 11am
Where?1303 Dwinelle Hall
What?We are a working group dedicated to the critical examination of methodologies in language documentation, description and revitalization, as well as to the linguistic and ethnohistorical analysis that falls out from that work. Our aim is to learn from and ultimately improve upon methods for carrying out more rigorous, insightful and ethical linguistic and cultural fieldwork, and to help researchers implement those methods.
How?Fieldwork Forum is made possible through a Working Group Grant provided by the Townsend Center for the Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley.
Who?FForum is organized by Hannah Sande and Amalia Skilton. We welcome all those interested in linguistic fieldwork, with all levels of experience, including those in other departments.

Fall 2015

Oct 6Discussion: FLEx demo and trouble shooting

Oct 13Line Mikkelsen (UC Berkeley)
From text to syntactic analysis
Generations of fieldworkers have produced a rich corpus of Karuk text material. As the prospect for grammatical elicitation with native speakers of the language dwindles, this corpus takes on an even greater role in analytic and revitalization work with the language. I discuss the methodological challenges in developing an analytic understanding of Karuk syntax and suggest some concrete strategies for overcoming these challenges. The discussion will center on word order, in particular the restrictions on pre- and post-verbal position for different dependents of the verb.

Oct 20Pius Akumbu
Community linguists and data collection: A Cameroonian experience
The linguistic situation in Cameroon is complex with at least 280 languages for a population of approximately 20 million people. Most of the linguistic work done on these languages has been by foreigners until recently when a number of Cameroonian linguists have been trained. My intention in this presentation is to disclose the methods I have used in my previous work as a linguist working on my mother-tongue and other languages of Cameroon, showing how I go between typical fieldwork and less fieldwork. I examine the difficulties we face as local linguists when we go to the field and also look at the impact our methods may have on the research output.

Oct 27TBD

Nov 3No regular meeting: Wednesday evening GAIL meeting

Nov 10Kate Lindsey (Stanford)

Nov 17Zachary O'Hagan (UC Berkeley)

Nov 24Ruprecht von Waldenfels

Dec 1TBD

Dec 8Monica Macaulay (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

Sep 1Discussion: Welcome back from the field!

Sep 8Erin Donnelly (UC Berkeley)
Evidence of the diachronic development of the obviative in Choapan Zapotec
Obviation, which differentially marks proximal and distal third-person referents, is typologically uncommon. Sometimes referred to as the “fourth person”, obviatives are grammatically mandatory elements that would otherwise be expressed as optional discourse reference markers in non-obviative languages. Within Mesoamerica, obviation has been documented in Tzotzil (Aissen 1997) and other Mayan languages, as well as the Mixe-Zoquean languages Zoque and Olutec (Zavala 2007). Unlike their polysynthetic neighbors, the isolating Oto-Manguean languages have not been described as having grammatical obviation. In this talk, I show that Choapan Zapotec (Eastern Oto-Manguean, Mexico) has developed a grammatically obligatory obviative pronoun. Using evidence from other Northern Zapotec dialects, I show that the development of obviation in Choapan Zapotec happened quite recently. This obviative pronoun has apparently grammaticalized from the informal third-person pronoun followed by a distal demonstrative. I argue that the appearance of this particular obviative pronoun in Choapan Zapotec is the result of two processes: analysis of the DP (3s pronoun + demonstrative) as a single phonological word, followed by a sound change which is only found in Choapan Zapotec. I suggest that, despite the attestation of obviation in other Mesoamerican languages, this particular grammaticalization process was an independent innovation.

Sep 15No regular meeting: Wednesday evening GAIL meeting

Sep 22Andrew Garrett, Ronald Sprouse, and Zachary O'Hagan (UC Berkeley)
Archiving your language materials in the California Language Archive
The California Language Archive is a repository for analog and digital materials emerging from documentation projects focused on languages of the western hemisphere as well as languages documented in Berkeley field methods classes and by Berkeley students and faculty. For those whose work falls into these categories, our presentation will provide a practical overview of how to begin archiving with the CLA. It is possible (and desirable) to set up a collection before you are done with your research, and it is possible to archive materials before the collection is 'live' (visible to catalog users).

Sep 29Kelsey Neely (UC Berkeley)
Work with ELAN, Praat, and FLEx together
ELAN, Praat, and Fieldworks Language Explorer (FLEx) are three highly useful applications that are commonly used by field linguists. This talk will present some ways for using these three tools together in a unified workflow. I will demo some of the features that make each of these applications useful, but I plan to focus on using ELAN. In particular, I will show how data can be imported from ELAN to Praat (and vice-versa) and how data can be exported to FLEx. It will not be necessary to have all (or any!) of these three programs installed on your computer to participate in the demonstration and discussion, but it may be useful.