Fieldwork and the movies (2): Stargate

Some time ago I published a somewhat postmodern analysis of Indiana Jones as fieldworker. Continuing in that vein, or next model for linguistic fieldwork comes from Stargate. Daniel Jackson is a fieldworker after my own heart. Not only is a detailed knowledge of historical linguistics vital to the success of his field research (“oh, it’s just a dialect related to Middle Egyptian”); he also illustrates the difficulties of monolingual field research and the possibilities of personal entanglements of a dubious ethical nature. He speaks a lot of languages, most of which are ultimately useless for the task which puts him in the most danger. He comes up with magical analyses from highly corrupted data, and he somehow doesn’t seem to notice that he’s working with a bunch of nutters. Finally, he is also keenly aware of local capacity building.

2 responses to “Fieldwork and the movies (2): Stargate

  1. I seem to recall that it was in the company of Bert Vaux and a group of grad students engaged in fieldwork on Tigrinya that I saw the original movie version of Stargate, so long ago. We had been lured to the movie theater by the promise of seeing geeky-cool “Linguists in Space” (cue the Muppet Show’s “Pigs in Space” music). At any rate, for sometime afterwards, I could not resist quoting the line “I can’t make it out. It sounds familiar, a bit like Berber. Maybe Chadic or Omotic.” Hey, anybody can tell that Omotic is Afro-Asiatic just by ear!

  2. Pingback: Fieldwork and the Movies: Dr Who | Anggarrgoon

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