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Notes from the Field: Inagta Alabat: A moribund Philippine language, with supporting audio
Jason William Lobel, Amy Jugueta Alpay, Rosie Susutin Barreno, & Emelinda Jugueta Barreno, pp. 1-57
Arguably the most critically-endangered language in the Philippines, Inagta Al- abat (also known as Inagta Lopez and Inagta Villa Espina) is spoken by fewer than ten members of the small Agta community on the island of Alabat off the northern coast of Quezon Province on the large northern Philippine island of Lu- zon, and by an even smaller number of Agta further east in the province. This short sketch provides some brief sociolinguistic notes on the group, followed by an overview of its phoneme system, grammatical subsystems, and verb system. Over 800 audio recordings accompany the article, including 100 sentences, three short narratives, and a list of over 200 basic vocabulary items.
Review of Activating the heart: Storytelling, knowledge sharing and relationship
Alexis Michaud, pp. 58-68
Multidirectional leveraging for computational morphology and language documentation and revitalization
Sylvia L. R. Schreiner, Lane Schwartz, Benjamin Hunt, & Emily Chen, pp. 69-86
St. Lawrence Island Yupik is an endangered language of the Bering Strait region. In this paper, we describe our work on Yupik jointly leveraging computational morphology and linguistic fieldwork, outlining the multilayer virtuous cycle that we continue to refine in our work to document and build tools for the language. After developing a preliminary morphological analyzer from an existing pedagogical grammar of Yupik, we used it to help analyze new word forms gathered through fieldwork. While in the field, we augmented the analyzer to include insights into the lexicon, phonology, and morphology of the language as they were gained during elicitation sessions and subsequent data analysis. The analyzer and other tools we have developed are improved by a corpus that continues to grow through our digitization and documentation efforts, and the computational tools in turn allow us to improve and speed those same efforts. Through this process, we have successfully identified previously undescribed lexical, morphological, and phonological processes in Yupik while simultaneously increasing the coverage of the morphological analyzer. Given the polysynthetic nature of Yupik, a high-coverage morphological analyzer is a necessary prerequisite for the development of other high-level computational tools that have been requested by the Yupik community.
LingView: A Web Interface for Viewing FLEx and ELAN Files
Kalinda Pride, Nicholas Tomlin, & Scott AnderBois, pp. 87-107
This article presents LingView (https://github.com/BrownCLPS/LingView), a web interface for viewing FLEx and ELAN files, optionally time-synced with corresponding audio or video files. While FLEx and ELAN are useful tools for many linguists, the resulting annotated files are often inaccessible to the general public. Here, we describe a data pipeline for combining FLEx and ELAN files into a single JSON format which can be displayed on the web. While this software was originally built as part of the A’ingae Language Documentation Project to display a corpus of materials in A’ingae, the software was designed to be a flexible resource for a variety of different communities, researchers, and materials.
Quantifying written ambiguities in tone languages: A comparative study of Elip, Mbelime, and Eastern Dan
David Roberts, Ginger Boyd, Johannes Merz, & Valentin Vydrin, pp. 108-138
Whether tone should be represented in writing, and if so how much, is one of the most formidable challenges facing those developing orthographies for tone languages. Various researchers have attempted to quantify the level of written ambiguity in a language if tone is not marked, but these contributions are not easily comparable because they use different measurement criteria. This article presents a first attempt to develop a standardized instrument and evaluate its potential. The method is exemplified using four narrative texts translated into Elip, Mbelime, and Eastern Dan. It lists all distinct written word forms that are homographs if tone is not marked, discarding repeated words, homophony, and polysemy, as well as pairs that never share the same syntactic slot. It treats lexical and grammatical tone separately, while acknowledging that these two functions often coincide. The results show that the level of written ambiguity in Elip is weighted towards the grammar, while in Mbelime many ambiguities occur at the point where lexical and grammatical tone coincide. As for Eastern Dan, with its profusion of nominal and verbal minimal pairs, not to mention pronouns, case markers, predicative markers, and other parts of speech, the level of written ambiguity if tone is not marked is by far the highest of the three languages. The article ends with some suggestions of how the methodology might be refined, by reporting some experimental data that provide only limited proof of the need to mark tone fully, and by describing how full tone marking has survived recent spelling reforms in all three languages.
A method comparison analysis examining the relationship between linguistic tone, melodic tune, and sung performances of children’s songs in Chicahuaxtla Triqui: Findings and implications for documentary linguistics and indigenous language communities
A. Raymond Elliott, pp. 139-187
Linguistic tones play an important role in expressing lexical and grammatical meaning in tone languages. A small change in the pitch of a word can result in an entirely different meaning. A logical question for those who document tone languages is whether or not singers preserve linguistic tone when singing and if so, to what degree? I begin by providing an overview of research in documentary linguistics that examines the interrelationship between linguistic tone and melody in tone languages. While the majority of articles have focused on Asian and African languages, there is only one investigation by Pike (1939) that examined the relationship between tone and tune in an unspecified variety of Mixtec, an Otomanguean language. In order to further our understanding of the tone-tune relationship, especially with regard to Otomanguean languages, I use three separate procedures for looking at the interrelationship between tone and tune in spoken, sung, and played performances of two popular children’s songs in Chicahuaxtla Triqui. While the first experiment yielded a non-significant relationship between linguistic tone and note transitions in the musical scores, the second and third experiments showed that the pitch traces of the spoken and played performances of the songs both relate to and perhaps influence pitch transitions and pitch transition differentials in the sung performances. The overall finding is that the song melody appears to exert a greater influence on the pitch tracings of the sung performances than does linguistic tone as measured in the spoken performances of the songs. With regard to experimental studies examining tone and tune, this study suggests that a set of well-defined prosodic features, such as overall pitch range, average F_0, F_0 for individual tones, and the difference between adjacent tones as measured in Hz, need to be considered when comparing tone to melodic tune. Simply correlating the correspondence or directionality of linguistic tones to that of the note transitions in musical scores does not appear to be promising nor sensitive enough to reveal the true interrelationship between tone and tune. This article ends with a discussion of the benefits of documenting songs in tone languages for linguists in addition to the advantages of teaching music to children of indigenous language communities.
Child-directed language – and how it informs the documentation and description of the adult language
Birgit Hellwig & Dagmar Jung, pp. 188-214
Language documentation efforts are most often concerned with the adult language and usually do not include the language used by and with children. Essential parts of the natural linguistic behaviour of communities thus remain undocumented, and a growing body of literature explores what language documentation, language maintenance, and language revitalization have to gain by including child language and child-directed language.
This paper adds a methodological perspective to the discussion, arguing that child language and child-directed language constitute data types that can inform our understanding of the adult language. For reasons of feasibility, the paper focuses on child-directed language only. Presenting data from two on-going language acquisition projects (Qaqet from Papua New Guinea and Dëne Sųłıné from Canada), we illustrate how this data type provides insights into the metalinguistic knowledge of adult speakers. After an introduction to child-directed language, three case studies on the topics of variation sets, clarification processes, and discourse context are exemplified from both languages and related to our understanding of the adult language. Focusing on the potential of this data type, this paper argues in favour of extending our documentation efforts to events involving children.
Documentation of Lakurumau: Making the case for one more language in Papua New Guinea
Lidia Federica Mazzitelli, pp. 215-237
This paper provides an introduction to Lakurumau, a previously undescribed and undocumented Oceanic language of Papua New Guinea. The first part of the paper is a guide to the Lakurumau documentation corpus, deposited in the ELAR archive. The participants and the content of the deposit, the technology used for recording, and the ethical protocols followed in the construction of the corpus are discussed. In the second part, a brief grammatical description of Lakurumau is presented, providing morpho-syntactic and sociolinguistic evidence in support of the classification of Lakurumau as an independent language, and some directions for future work are outlined.