Documentation and Historical Linguistics

I’ve been in Taiwan for a week, at a joint workshop between Rice Linguistics and National Taiwan University’s Linguistics Department. All the faculty gave talks about their recent work and the Chairs signed a Memorandum of Understanding. We were exceptionally well looked after by our hosts: the food was awesome, the company great, and the graduate students gave us some really nice tours of Taipei and surrounds.

The talk I gave was on fieldwork documentation and historical linguistics. You can’t say much in half an hour (I should have done what one of my colleagues did and just ignore the time limit!) but I made these points:

  • Historical fieldwork isn’t all that special, or all that ifferent from regular fieldwork. You still need the same sorts of things: good metadata, accurate records, annotated data, and so on.
  • Old records sholdn’t be ignored. It’s tempting to go with the ‘new’ stuff because it’s easier to use but there’s a lot that can be gathered from collections like the Laves collextion.

I talked about two case studies: the Laves texts for Bardi and the Nimanburru tapes in the Peile collection.


One response to “Documentation and Historical Linguistics

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