Plenaries and Master Class Abstracts
Nicholas Evans: The web of words and the web of life: reconnecting language documentation with ethnobiology
There are many reasons to see linguistics and biology as connected sister fields.
Both draw their inspiration from the stunning diversity in their respective worlds,
developing evolutionary accounts of change and diversification, and the dialogue
between historical linguistics and evolutionary biology has been going on since the
famous correspondence between Darwin and Schleicher. in the 1860s. A substantial
part of any language is devoted to the description of biological phenomena, so that
we cannot give a complete account of how any language functions without examining
how it represents these in its vocabulary, grammar and phraseology. And, in an era
when there is increasing appreciation of how much small-scale speech communities
know about the natural world that have yet to be ‘discovered’ by mainstream biology,
the study of little-documented languages is a natural key to unlocking the full
dimensions of Traditional Ecological Knowledge.
Despite the natural affinity between these two fields, the potential for fruitful
collaboration has waned in recent decades. Compared to the heyday of interaction
from the 1960s to the early 1980s, when studies of ethnobiological terminology
flourished under the aegis of Berlin and his colleagues, representative journals like
Ethnobiology now contained negligible amounts of linguistic material.
A possible explanation for this is that the Berlinian paradigm for the
ethnobiology/linguistics connection became so focussed on its
own ‘taxonomocentric’ set of questions – about universals of folk taxonomic
structure, and about the relations of linguistic categories at various levels to those
found in the natural world – that a whole series of other research questions were put
aside. In this talk I will resuscitate a number of these, illustrating my argument with
examples drawn from fieldwork in northern Australia and southern New Guinea.
(a) the use of non-morphological criteria in constructing categories, including
similaries of sound (bird calls), behaviour (bird nesting patterns), gait (kangaroos and
wallabies) and cosociality (some bird sps)
(b) ecological relations, including habitat, diet, succession
(c) behaviour, including cache defence, mating, migration and nesting
(d) utility for humans, including food, medicine, material for manufacture, but
also as information signalling (e.g. birds, insects, ‘calendar flowers’), route guides
and fire management
The above topics are organised by type of information, but while discussing
them I will also investigate the linguistic dimension of how this is encoded, including
the use of gait verbs, reduplication, various types of derivational morphology in
nouns, and ‘sign metonymies’ signalled by gender alternations. By examining the
coevolution of human knowledge about the natural world, and the linguistic means
for expressing it, I will show that the two fields of linguistics and ethnobiology are
ripe for reengagement across a broad range of questions. As McClatchey (2012:297)
has put it: "The ethnobiologists and other scientists are waiting for the linguists to
Dr. Evans is Head and Professor at the School of Culture, History and Language at the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University. A preeminent researcher on endangered Australian and Papuan languages, he documents not only their grammars and song traditions, but also the reciprocal effects on each other of language and culture. In 2011 Professor Evans was named a fellow of the British Academy, the UK’s foremost academy recognizing scholarly distinction in the humanities and social sciences. His most recent key publication is Dying Words: Endangered Languages and What They Have to Tell Us (Oxford: Blackwell, 2010). Additional information.
Kālepa Baybayan: He Lani Ko Luna, A Sky Above: In losing the sight of land, you discover the stars.
A presentation on the history of deep-sea voyaging, exploration, and oceanic wayfinding, the indigenous system of orientation and navigation at sea, and the efforts to use these experiences to revitalize a once dynamic maritime culture by educating through a native world view that begins with learning through the language of the host culture while steering connections through an experience that explains the symbiotic relationship between land, sea, sky, science, and culture.
Mr. Baybayan is fluent in the Hawaiian language and is captain and
navigator of the Hawaiian deep-sea voyaging canoes Hōkūle‘a, Hawai‘iloa,
and Hōkūalaka‘i. He has been an active participant in the Polynesian voyaging
renaissance since 1975 and has sailed on all major voyages of the Hōkūle‘a
and Hawai‘iloa throughout the South Pacific and the Pacific Rim. Kālepa was the past Site Director of Honuakai, the Exploration Sciences Division of the ‘Aha
Pūnana Leo, that teaches the Hawaiian Language to participants that crew
aboard the Hōkūalaka‘i. He currently serves as the Navigator in Residence at
the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i, managing the center's content, and developing wayfinding activities and curriculum materials. In 2007, Kālepa and four other Hawaiian men were initiated into the order of Pwo – a 2,000-year-old society of traditional deep-sea navigators – by their teacher, Master Navigator Mau Piailug, on the Carolinian island of Satawal.
The Master Class series
Linda Barwick: Documenting Ethnomusicology
Music in one or another of its myriad and constantly developing forms is found in all known human cultures. This workshop will provide a broad overview of the closely interwined human capacities for music and language, areas of disciplinary overlap (and disjunction) between (ethno)musicology and linguistics, and a summary of the academic history of (ethno)musicology. We will also discuss methods and tools for musicological documentation, and workflows for creating, documenting, annotating and providing local access to musical recordings created during fieldwork. Prospective participants are invited to contact the presenter beforehand with any particular questions they may wish to discuss with the group, and come prepared to share aspects of their actual or planned research pertaining to music and other performing arts.
Dr. Barwick is Associate Professor in the School of Letters, Art and Media at the University of Sydney, and Director of the Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures (PARADISEC). She has undertaken ethnomusicological fieldwork in Italy, Australia and the Philippines, and has published widely on Australian Indigenous Music, Italian traditional music, and ethnographic e-humanities. She has a particular interest in working with communities to provide local access to research, and in collaboration with linguist colleagues and song composers has produced richly documented multimedia publications and archival deposits of various Indigenous song traditions. Recent publications include a monograph co-authored with Allan Marett and Lysbeth Ford, For the Sake of a Song: Wangga Songmen and Their Repertories (Sydney: Sydney University Press, in press 2012), and the co-edited volume Italy in Australia's Musical Landscape, eds Linda Barwick and Marcello Sorce Keller (Melbourne: Lyrebird Press, 2012).
Alex Golub, Documenting Kinship Systems
Kinship -- the relations of nurturance and belonging forged in the course of reproducing human communities -- is central linguistic and cultural conservation. A cultural/linguistic phenomenon to be sustained in its own right, it is also an important context to be aware of when doing linguistic work. This masterclass will cover basic information necessary to study and study within kinship systems.
First, we will cover 'classic' kinship theory, including classic taxonomies of kinship terminology (especially 'Hawaiian', 'Eskimo' and 'Iroquois' and 'Omaha' systems -- the most common systems), how to create well-formed kinship diagrams (the 'circles' and 'triangles' approach) as well as shorthand notation for kinship systems. We will also discuss the standard method for eliciting kinship systems, how best to record genealogical information in the field, and some tips on the practicalities of kinship research. Finally, we will discuss special topics you might encounter in the field -- specialized terms for siblings, dealing with taboos on the names of the dead, teknonymy, ethnonyms, specialized terms for residence, avoidance terms, and so forth.
In the second half of the class we will cover current theory in kinship. Advances in anthropological theory have replaced traditional theories of kinship with a more generalized theory of relationality -- how human beings create social relationships more broadly. A brief introduction to this work will help familiarize you with forms of relatedness that might not look like 'kinship' in the standard Western sense but which are still an integral part of social relations (joking avoidance partnerships, milk brotherhood, etc.).
Dr. Golub is currently an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He holds three degrees in anthropology: a BA from Reed College (1995), and an MA (1997) and Ph.D. (2006) from the University of Chicago. Although broadly trained, he describes his areas of interest as political, legal, and environmental anthropology. He is an expert on the cultures of Papua New Guinea, and Oceania more broadly. Alex has been at the forefront of anthropologists writing and thinking about the changes digital media have made to anthropology, and the academy more generally. As a graduate student he was on the original creative team of Gapersblock.org, which has since grown to become Chicago’s most popular daily website. He is a co-founder of savageminds.org, described by American Anthropologist as “the central online site of the North American anthropological community”. He also writes occasional opinion pieces for Inside Higher Ed and has been quoted in Rolling Stone, Nature, The Globe and Mail, and other sources.
David M. Mark: Ethnophysiogeography: Documenting Categories of Landscape Features
The landscape is an important domain of human experience and activity.
Ethnophysioraphy seeks to document the folk taxonomy and terminology
for landscape features and components, as well as other cultural
connections to land and landscape, including topophilia and sense of
place. By landscape, we mean the larger components of the human
environment, composed of very large features and places--features
such as mountains, rivers, valleys, and forests. Voegelin and Voegelin
(1957) recognized topography as a fundamental domain for language
documentation. Ethnophysiography also includes landscape-scale water
and vegetation features. Documenting linguistic aspects of the landscape
domain is especially complicated because the landscape has few bona
fide objects; rather, features are extracted from a continuous landscape
in ways that themselves may vary across cultures and language. The use
of ontological principles to clarify feature extraction and classification
will be discussed.
Dr. Mark is a SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of
Geography at the University at Buffalo (UB), State University of New York,
where he is the director of the Buffalo site of the National Center for
Geographic Information and Analysis (NCGIA). Mark completed his PhD
in Geography at Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, Canada) in 1977.
He is an author of more than 230 publications, and has edited eight books. His research interests include ontology of the geospatial domain,
geographic cognition, cultural differences in geographic concepts,
geographic information science, and digital elevation models.
Will McClatchey: Folk Taxonomy
The Folk Taxonomy workshop will focus on practical collection of biological/environmental terms,
and determination of effective classification systems. Several field methods will be practiced.
Participants are not expected to have any background knowledge in biological or physical sciences
in order to develop a reasonable level of confidence and success. Discussions will describe how to
develop collaborations with topical experts and how to work effectively with such experts for mutual
benefit. Additional topics that will be discussed as time permits are: Intellectual property rights,
general/”universal” roles of classification, roles of evidence to support dictionaries, databases for folk
taxonomy, likely ethical dilemmas, classifications for specialized categories.
Dr. McClatchey earned B.S. degrees in Anthropology and Pharmacy from Oregon State University. He
worked as a community and consultant pharmacist while earning an M.S. in Ethnobotany from Brigham
Young University and a Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Florida. He is Director of Research at the
Botanical Research Institute of Texas. His past research has been conducted on ethnobiology in the
Southwest Pacific. His current research focuses on hypotheses about: 1) development and distribution
of anthropogenic ecosystems, 2) production of traditional alcoholic beverages, and 3) evolution and
resilience of artificial ecosystems built to address changing environments. He is active in the Open
Science Network developing courses and curriculum in ethnobiology.
Warren Nishimoto: How to Document Oral History
Oral history involves more than just turning on a tape recorder and asking an interviewee
questions. Careful planning, research, listening, and establishing rapport are basic
elements to a successful interview. In this class we will examine the method and value
of preparing for and conducting life history interviews with people willing to ‘talk story’
about their experiences, as well as how to preserve, analyze, and disseminate these
Dr. Nishimoto is director of the UH-Manoa Center for Oral History. For 32 years,
he has directed oral history projects focusing on Hawai`i’s working people, conducted
workshops on oral history methodology, and presented lectures and programs on the
Tamara Ticktin: Documenting Ethnobotany
How can basic ethnobotanical skills aid linguists in the process of
language documentation? Why is this important? In this course we will
discuss methods that ethnobotanists use to document plant and animal
names and the traditional knowledge associated with them (uses,
phenological and ecological information, stories, songs, chants etc).
Topics include collection of plants in the field, preparation of
voucher specimens, metadata, herbaria, recording of traditional
ecological knowledge, as well as a discussion of ethical issues that
can arise. We will conclude with a discussion of the importance of
collaborations between linguists and ethnobotanists, and the
opportunities and challenges this can present.
Dr. Ticktin is an ethnoecologist and conservation biologist, and
Associate Professor of Botany Department at the UHM. Her research centers on local and indigenous forms of
natural resource management and their relationships to the
conservation of biological and biocultural diversity. She has carried
out collaborative research in Hawai`i, Asia, Africa and Latin America
and is Senior Associate Editor of the ethnobotany journal, Economic