In this essay, I highlight the important role of endangered language documentation and description in the study of sound patterns. Three different perspectives are presented: a long view of phonology, from ancient to modern traditions; an areal and genetic view of sound patterns, and their relation to theory and description; and a practical perspective on the importance of research on endangered sound patterns. All perspectives converge on a common theme: the most lasting and influential contributions to the field are those with seamless boundaries between description and analysis.
Solar Power for the Digital Fieldworker
This article discusses the technical aspects of a solar power setup for remote field situations. It guides the reader through estimating power consumption and setting up a basic solar kit. The authors address picking a solar panel, using a charge regulator, and choosing a battery based on estimated power consumption and availability. They discuss two different types of power adaptors, how to connect the equipment, and the benefits and drawbacks of using multi-meters. They address the use of rechargeable batteries and finally, caution against too heavy a reliance on solar power.
Copyright Essentials for Linguists
This paper addresses copyright issues that linguists confront in their capacity as users and creators of scholarly work. It is organized in a simple question-answer format. Questions 1–3 present the basics of U.S. copyright law, including the fundamental nature of copyright as a bundle of intellectual property rights and the role of registration. Questions 4–5 treat issues of copyright notice. Questions 6–8 explain licenses, especially Creative Commons licenses, and the function of an Author’s Addendum. Questions 9–10 look at copyright in the context of online open access publishing. Question 11 discusses the concept of Fair Use. Question 12 analyzes the problem of what are called Orphan Works. Questions 13–19 explore issues of copyright ownership, including Work for Hire, joint authorship, and attribution. Questions 20–22 deal with copyright with specific reference to fieldwork situations and indigenous rights. The paper concludes with a brief presentation of key sources for further study and clarification.
Managing Fieldwork Data with Toolbox and the Natural Language Toolkit
This paper shows how fieldwork data can be managed using the program Toolbox together with the Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK) for the Python programming language. It provides background information about Toolbox and describes how it can be downloaded and installed. The basic functionality of the program for lexicons and texts is described, and its strengths and weaknesses are reviewed. Its underlying data format is briefly discussed, and Toolbox processing capabilities of NLTK are introduced, showing ways in which it can be used to extend the functionality of Toolbox. This is illustrated with a few simple scripts that demonstrate basic data management tasks relevant to language documentation, such as printing out the contents of a lexicon as HTML.
Ethics and Revitalization of Dormant Languages: The Mutsun Language
Language revitalization (either increasing the use of an endangered language or bringing back a language with no speakers) brings up many ethical issues, beginning with whether it is even legitimate to attempt such revitalization. Language communities and linguists must address these issues if revitalization is to succeed in any of its goals. In this paper, we discuss the ethical issues we have encountered and the choices we have made about them during revitalization work with the Mutsun language (a dormant Costanoan language of California). We argue that language revitalization is a useful and legitimate application of linguistic knowledge.
Writer’s Workshops: A Strategy for Developing Indigenous Writers
This paper discusses how writers’ workshops can be used to develop writers from indigenous language groups. It considers how such workshops fit into the greater context of a community literacy program, and describes both the practical and instructional components of workshop design. Of particular importance is the principle of teaching writing as a process. Examples from Papua New Guinea demonstrate the role writers’ workshops play in developing indigenous orthographies and materials that contribute to culturally relevant educational curricula. Finally, the merits and weaknesses of such training are discussed, and questions for further research are raised.