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

Dec 1Rebekah Baglini (Stanford)
Wolof Bu Xóót: Fieldwork on 'Deep Wolof' in Northern Senegal
Wolof (West Atlantic sub-branch, Niger-Congo; Ethnologue: [wol]) is spoken by an estimated 10 million people in Senegal, with a roughly even split between native and second language speakers. This talk highlights features of 'deep Wolof' (Wolof bu xóót) which distinguish it from urban varieties, including: preservation of noun class system; richer system of derivational verb extensions; ideophones; 'verbal gestures' - a system paraphonemic sounds (clicks, hums, whistles) with special discourse functions; idioms, proverbs, 'joking kinship' and other socially significant language use. In addition, I will address special considerations for undertaking fieldwork in a rural, largely monolingual speech community in Senegal.

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.

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 (University of Buea & UC Berkeley)
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 27Heriberto Avelino
Towards a Substance-Based Phonological Typology
The tradition of phonological and phonetic typology developed in the second half of the 20th century relied on the comparison of phonemic inventories (Greenberg, 1978; Maddieson, 1984). The representation of sound patterns in the form of inventory charts constituted the main methodological tool to propose universal tendencies across languages. At the core of phonemic typology there is the premise that the generalizations and claims are based mainly on discrete representations, which by necessity leave aside the phonetic matter of speech properly. As a result of developments in instruments available to linguists and the maturity in the discipline, towards the end of the century, the research in phonetic typology experienced a paradigm shift associated with the work of Peter Ladefoged and Ian Maddieson on the phonetics of the World's languages; this new type of research incorporated the theoretical developments in phonetic theory together with technological advances and intensive fieldwork to produce phonetic descriptions of natural languages that were the basis for cross-linguistic comparisons validated quantitatively. This shift in the paradigm has paved the road to propose a contemporary research program of Substance-Based Phonological Typology, which, in turn, informs fieldwork research on the sounds of the World's languages. I will present original cross-linguistic phonetic data collected in the field and typological analysis of partially nasal consonants and glottalized consonants to illustrate the synergy between fieldwork and typology under this new paradigm.

Nov 3Andrew Garrett (UC Berkeley)
Discussion on applying for an Oswalt Endangered Language Grant
Note: unusual start time of 10am

Nov 10Kate Lindsey (Stanford)
Sentence structure in Ende: just what the linguist ordered?
Ende is a Pahoturi language spoken in southern Papua New Guinea. Speakers of Ende generally smiled and laughed “Yes, that’s okay!” when I scrambled their words into various orders. Is there free word order in Ende or were my experts simply very agreeable? To explore this question, I set aside the elicitations and looked at three types of non-elicited data with varying formality (1) oral texts, (2) written texts, and (3) translated texts. Throughout the talk, we will discuss some challenges of eliciting syntactic judgments, methods for finding order in a handwritten corpus, and the pros and cons of working with elicited, oral, written and translated data.

Nov 17Zachary O'Hagan (UC Berkeley)
Taushiro and the Status of Language Isolates in Northwest Amazonia
In this presentation I report on exploratory fieldwork with the last fluent speaker of Taushiro (isolate, Peru) in June 2015. I review the ethnohistorical record on Taushiros and describe basic phonological, grammatical, and lexical properties of the language, comparing those with data on Omurano (isolate) collected by me from rememberers in 2013, as well as with neighboring Chicham/Jivaroan languages, Zaparoan languages, and Urarina (isolate). I establish Taushiro as an isolate and counter a literature that has placed it within a number of different genetic groupings. This research builds on initial documentation of Taushiro carried out by Nectalí Alicea Ortiz under the auspices of the Summer Institute of Linguistics in the 1970s. It diverges especially in the analysis of nasality, creak, and tone, three phenomena that prove to be crucial to the proper understanding of the language in an areal perspective.

Nov 24Ruprecht von Waldenfels (UC Berkeley)
The North Russian postposed particle -t*: a dialect corpus perspective
My talk has two subjects. First, I will introduce our field work project, a series of joint fieldwork trips with a team of students and colleagues from Switzerland and Russia to a village in the south of the Arkhangelsk Region, appr. 1000 km north of Moscow. The aim of the project is to document and research the local dialect as well as its loss in the community, i.e., we seek to capture the full scope of variation between base dialect and standard Russian present here. The data is collected in open interviews, transcribed in standard Russian to facilitate the process, and then made available in an online interface with linked audio; see this link. I will shortly describe this approach and argue why it was necessary to develop our own interface, which is now being reused in other (Slavic) field work projects. The second part of the talk will be on the function of the postponed inflecting particle -t-. This particle is cognate to and looks very much like the postposed definite article found in the South Slavic languages Bulgarian and Macedonian. Based on this fact, it has been claimed that non-standard Northern Russian has also developed a definite article, or at least has gone some way in developing one (Heine and Kuteva, 2006). While it is rather straightforward to show that -t- is NOT a definite article, its actual function remains unclear. Based on the corpus data, I show that the particle fulfils typical demonstrative functions and seems to be used mainly for discourse deictic and recognitional (Diessel 1999) purposes, and discuss how this can be related to its putative status as a definite article in statu nascendi.