Language Documentation and Description; Oto-Manguean languages; Mixtec in California; Kashaya Pomo; Digital Linguistics; Linguistics and Technology; Community-Based Linguistics
I’m a documentary linguist currently planning to carry out fieldwork on Mixteco as spoken in California. In addition to my interest in language description, I explore ways to use technology (and especially the Web Platform) to make language documentation more efficient and reusable for linguists, and more accessible and beneficial to speech communities. I view the integration of technology and linguistics as on a par with the standardization of the phonetic alphabet: just as a (reasonably) standardized phonetic transcription system opened a wide array of theoretical possibilities in all aspects of linguistic theory, I am convinced that more fully networked and digitized methodologies in documentation will open innovative avenues for the analysis of language, especially in the form of conversation. Outside of a select group of documentary linguists (several of whom I now have the privilege to work with here at UCSB), conversational has not been a focus for the documentary linguistics. This is a long-standing shortcoming, as noted by Franz Boas in the introduction to the very first volume of IJAL. Technology offers the field the tantalizing possibility of increasing the efficiency with which conversation can be analyzed.
In order to contextualize my interest in this larger goal, I pursue an interest in the praxis of fieldwork on several levels: not only as a process of description and documentation, but also as a social process in its own right: How do linguists — in most cases not themselves native speakers of the language of study — go about negotiating the an understanding of the linguistic structure and meaning through the medium of a common language or monolingual elicitation? The field of Documentary Linguistics has developed a broad array of techniques for eliciting and
How is it that linguists who are (usually) not native speakers of the language of the speakers they work with are nonetheless able to arrive at reliable characterizations of the syntax, morphology, phonology, and lexis of those languages?