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.
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