Language and Culture Documentation Manual
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Language and Culture Documentation Manual

About the Book

The authors draw on experience from Africa, Europe, Asia and the Pacific to passionately convey why language and culture documentation is urgent and why working ethically is crucial. This is followed by step-by-step instructions about what to document, leading to the specifics needed for writing a documentation proposal. The book includes recommendations for equipment and software, with details about how to get archive quality recordings. Data management and preparing the corpus for archiving are thoroughly covered. The appendices include forms and summaries the reader will want to refer to often. 

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About the Authors

Brenda Boerger
Brenda H. Boerger

Brenda H. Boerger, received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin, where her dissertation was a phonological reconstruction of Proto-Gypsy. She and her family lived in the Solomon Islands on and off for 20 years, where she worked in Natügu [ntu] language development and helped train national and expatriate colleagues in language development activities. Her current position is as SIL International’s Special Consultant for Language and Culture Documentation, and co-instructor of Language Documentation at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics (GIAL). Brenda has twice received NEH-NSF Documenting Endangered Languages Fellowships for further documentary and descriptive work on Natügu [ntu], once in 2010 for grammar work and once in 2015 for dictionary work. 

Sarah Ruth Moeller
Sarah Ruth Moeller

Sarah R. Moeller is a PhD student at University of Colorado. She earned her M.A. in Applied Linguistics at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics (GIAL) and subsequently worked for two years in the Caucasus Mountains as a GIAL researcher and language documentation curriculum developer. Her focus has been on best practices for archiving and she co-developed a SayMore software tutorial. She has also been an Assistant Instructor for the GIAL Language Documentation course several times.

Will Reiman
Will Reiman

Will Reiman has been gathering and teaching about linguistic and cultural data collections for over a decade. Experiences include media-based data collection in Mozambique, Kenya, Guinea Bissau, and Dallas, Texas, with workshops in those locations as well as Indonesia and British Columbia. He has also been co-instructor of the Language Documentation course at the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics since its inception in 2009. He received his first MA, in Linguistics, from the University of Texas at Arlington, and is currently working on his second, in Information Science, at the University of North Texas.

Stephen Self
Stephen Self

Stephen is an independent researcher no longer directly involved with language documentation or even linguistics, but whose heart remains with those who are among their language's last speakers and their communities' last knowers. May they never be forgotten.

Table of Contents

    • Preface
    • Acknowledgments
  • Part 1: Theory
    • Chapter 1. What is language endangerment?
      • Numbers of language
      • “Endangered” linguistic purity abroad and through time
      • Causes of language endangerment
      • Speakers of endangered languages
      • Assessing language endangerment
    • Chapter 2. What is Language Documentation?
      • Language documentation as external memory
      • Language documentation as linguistic and anthropological fieldwork
      • Language documentation as a shift of focus from earlier fieldwork
      • The core tasks of language documentation
      • The Seven Dimensions of Portability
    • Chapter 3. What is Culture Documentation?
      • Cultural features to document
      • Discovering and analyzing a community’s cultural heritage through ethnoarts
      • Sample analysis: Santa Cruz nelâ dance event
    • Chapter 4. Language and Culture Documentation: Themes and Motivations
      • Increased interest in language and culture documentation
      • Language Documentation as activism
      • Who are we trying to convince? The problem of multiple audiences
      • Finding common ground
      • The arguments for language and culture documentation
      • Why not do language and culture documentation
    • Chapter 5. Ethics: Theory, Planning, Reality
      • Ethics in theory
      • Planning for ethical field work
      • Ethical realities in the field
      • Conclusion
  • Part 2: A Language and Culture Documentation Project
    • Chapter 6. Planning a Language and Culture Documentation Project
      • Researching the language and culture
      • Finding funding sources
      • Initiating community involvement
      • Planning a corpus
      • Making a project schedule
      • Choosing an archive
      • Writing a language and culture documentation project proposal
      • Respecting intellectual property rights
      • Developing a data management system
      • Building a team
      • Training for yourself and others
      • Selecting equipment, software, and supplies
      • Making a budget
      • Obtaining permissions
      • Planning travel logistics
      • Conducting an advance visit to the field site (optional)
    • Chapter 7. A Project Proposal
      • Succinct and compelling title for your documentary project
      • Introduction/Abstract
      • Project overview and outcomes
      • Plan of the corpus
      • Methodology
      • Ethics statement, permissions, and community review
      • Work plan and schedule
      • Data management plan
      • Resources and budget
      • Summary, Significance, Conclusion
      • References
      • Appendices
    • Chapter 8. The Documentary Corpus
      • Goals and characteristics of a documentary corpus
      • Components of a complete corpus
      • Five types of data and their sub-types
      • How much to record
      • A simple fieldwork approach
    • Chapter 9. Archives
      • Finding an archive
      • Criteria for a responsible archive
      • Working with an archive
  • Part 3: Methods and Equipment
    • Chapter 10. Capturing Quality Audio and Visual Data
      • Desired outcomes for audio and visual data
      • How to pursue desired outcomes for audio and visual data
    • Chapter 11. Equipment
      • What to consider when selecting equipment
      • Basic rules for buying equipment
      • The core recording tools
      • Peripheral recording tools
      • Direct-to-computer recording
      • Equipment not in the Signal Chain
      • Final thoughts
      • Shopping help
    • Chapter 12. Basic Oral Language Documentation (BOLD)
      • Overview
      • The BOLD process
      • BOLD in the field: Who should do what, where, and how
      • Advantages and disadvantages to BOLD
      • Computer-assisted oral annotation
      • Activities for BOLD practice
    • Chapter 13. Software
      • Language and Culture Documentation as Digital Activity
      • Guidelines for selecting software
      • Core software
      • A Word about video software
      • Expanding your software toolkit
  • Part 4: Fieldwork
    • Chapter 14. Data Management
      • What is metadata?
      • Levels of metadata
      • Gathering metadata
      • Bundling data
      • Labeling
      • Access protocol: A very important piece of metadata
      • Backing up data
    • Chapter 15. Elicitation: Tips, Techniques, and Tools
      • Eliciting words
      • Eliciting grammatical constructions
      • Eliciting communicative events
      • Eliciting analytical discussions
    • Chapter 16. Fieldwork Flow
      • Tips for time management
      • Arrival logistics
      • Workflow of sociolinguistic preparation
      • General workflow of fieldwork tasks
      • Example workflows for elicited data
      • Workflow of speech events with oral annotations
      • Workflow of written transcription
      • Workflow of analytical discussions
      • Workflow of cultural events
      • Workflow of departure logistics
  • Part 5: Post-field Processing
    • Chapter 17. Archiving
      • Digitization of legacy materials
      • Conduct quality assurance
      • Finish annotations
      • Finish item-level metadata
      • Finish the structural skeleton (corpus-level metadata)
      • Review the documentary corpus
      • Contact the archive and deposit the corpus
      • Keep the corpus discoverable and accessible
    • Chapter 18. Description and Publishing in Language and Culture Documentation
      • The importance of dissemination
      • Citing an archived corpus
      • Publishing and language revitalization
  • Appendices
    • Appendix A. Ethnoarts Discovery and Analysis Profile
      • Instructions:
      • Step 1: Meet and identify the community
      • Step 2: Explore the community’s social & conceptual life
      • Step 3: List cultural events & arts genres in them
      • Step 4: Identify & record significant events & genres
      • Step 5: Analyze the selected event(s) and genre(s)
      • Step 6: AV record the relevant genres and events again, if needed; add appropriate annotation
      • References—
    • Appendix B. Oral Informed Consent, Template 1
      • Group Introduction, General Permission
      • Permissions From Individuals Being Recorded
    • Appendix C. Written Informed Consent
      • Informed Consent Release for Audio/Video/Photo Recording
    • Appendix D. Funding Sources for Language and Culture Documentation
      • International Funding
      • Funding for US nationals or residents
    • Appendix E: How Much of Which Genres to Collect
    • Appendix F. What to Collect with Limited Time
    • Appendix G. Functions of Language
      • Survival Functions
      • Social Functions
      • Self-expressive Functions
      • Cognitive Functions
      • Managing conversations
    • Appendix H. Comparing Major Archives
    • Appendix I. Archival Best Practice for Audio Files
    • Appendix J. Checklist for Audio Recording
      • Before the “performance” begins
      • Record the event
      • After the “performance” is over
    • Appendix K. Oral Annotation Setup
      • The Basic Setup
      • Setup for Equipment with no XLR Jacks
      • Setting Up Menus and Control Use
    • Appendix L. Segmenting with Audacity
      • Specific Steps using Audacity to segment files
    • Appendix M. Metadata Template - Communicative Event
    • Appendix N. Metadata Template
    • Appendix O. Script for Capturing Catastrophic Metadata
      • 1. Slotted Catastrophic Metadata
      • 2. Conversational Catastrophic Metadata
    • Appendix P. File Labeling Key
      • Rules of Digital File Naming
    • Appendix Q. The Mirrored Recliner
    • Appendix R. Sample Plan for “Basic Corpus” Fieldwork
    • Appendix S. Daily Fieldwork Sessions: A Checklist
      • Before walking out the door
      • Arriving on site
      • A Recording session
      • Before leaving the site
      • At the end of the day
    • Appendix T: Corpus Introduction Template
      • I. Introduction.
      • II. The language community.
      • III. Previous work in the language.
      • IV. The need for documentation.
      • V. Plan of the corpus.
      • VI. Terms of use.
      • VII. Community review.
      • VIII. Planning.
      • IX. Methodology.
      • X. Acknowledgments.
      • References.
      • Appendices.
    • Appendix U: Checklist for Reviewing an LCD Corpus
  • Glossary
  • References
  • Notes

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