A story of love and debt: the give and the take of linguistic fieldwork

Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. (2013) A story of love and debt: the give and the take of linguistic fieldwork. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 14 (2). pp. 172-182.

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When a linguist goes into the field to work with a previously undescribed language, they aim at discovering what the language is like. What we linguists take away is knowledge—reflected in our publications, presentations and scholarly reputation. What we also get is the feeling of love for the languages and for the people, and the sense of indebtedness for what we learn and get given. The language communities expect us to produce dictionaries, story books and pedagogical materials. Academia and the communities place different expectations on linguists engaged in fieldwork research. I examine these, using the example of my own fieldwork with the Tariana, an Arawak-speaking group in the multilingual area of the Vaupés River Basin in north-west Amazonia (Brazil). The focus of the paper is a pedagogical workshop jointly run by myself with my Tariana-speaking adopted family.

Item ID: 26232
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1740-9314
Keywords: multilingualism; Amazonian languages; fieldwork; Arawak languages; language and identity
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2013 01:12
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 100%
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