Motivations and Goals
There are many methods that can be used to compile information about a language’s grammar and lexicon in order to build an adequate descriptive account. One common and well-tested avenue is that of elicitation, through which phonological contrasts may be established, and where paradigms and other constructions may be built and compared to uncover the inflectional and derivational categories relevant for the language.
However, we must also recognize a language as more than simply the results of the combination of levels of grammatical analysis (phonetics-phonology, morpho-syntax, lexical & grammatical semantics), but also as a communicative event. As a communicative tool, utterances are tailored and shaped to particular grammatical (and social/cultural) functions. As such, to come to truly know about a language is to do so through the collection and analysis of texts from a wide range of representative speakers and of speech genres. This is by no means an easy task, and admittedly it is one the slowest dimensions of our project to develop, but we make constant and steady progress nevertheless…
Our approaches to text collection attempt to conform to Bird and Simons’ (1993) “best practices recommendations”, particularly:
- Format: We aim to release text collections with open-access transcription and translation conventions, available through freely accessible applications like ELAN and Toolbox
- Discovery: The texts are accompanied by metadata and metadescription such that the discourse event does not become an uninterpretable artifact over time; as such, the text becomes a vehicle for grammatical analysis, while important contextual information remains associated with the text
- Access: Only texts that have been approved by the speech community are available for public access and analysis; in most cases, publicly available texts represent oral histories, personal experiences, object or procedural descriptions and demonstrations about practices and materials that are of some cultural significance to the community, and that the community wishes to share with the world.
Some texts have been acquired by dynamic-interactive stimuli (photos and video prompts) and guided interaction (e.g. a tour of a residence, demonstrations of agricultural techniques). Other exemplars include monologic procedural texts (e.g. activities, recipes, visual landscape or object descriptions), interviews between friends and relatives, and narrative autobiographies/histories.
Texts were recorded either for audio archive only (via Marantz recorder and Audio-Technica omnidirectional stereo microphone), or else with a Canon FS200 video camera (with external microphone input), or else with a Sony HD solid-state recorder, also with external mic input (which we love, by the way…beautiful sound and resolution).
Outputs & Metadata
The range and detail of metadata and metadescription vary. Minimally we include place/time/participants/genre/duration/recording equipment data. [Under revision] Many of our recorded texts and discourses from Gyalsumdo speakers are now available via the SHANTI (Sciences Humanities and Arts Network of Technological Initiatives) media base collection (connected to the Tibetan Himalayan Library at the University of Virginia).
Access to Discourses
These projects are available under a Creative Commons Licensing Act. By downloading these files, you automatically accept the terms and conditions as related to the Attribution-Non-Commercial-Sharealike License 3.0)
The main page for the discourses can be found here. You may need to disable the “https” setting in order to view the video in certain browsers (e.g. Safari)
1. Gurung (Tamu, Tamu kye, Ethnologue ISO 639-3 gvr, Glottocode west2414)
- “A Man Describes Otar Village“
- “A Gurung Man Describes the Crops Grown in his Village“
- “A Gurung Man Describes his Apple Orchard in Manang“
- “A Gurung Man Describes the History and Settlement of His Village”
- “A Gurung Man Tells a Traditional Story”
- “A Gurung Man Describes the Construction of a Road”
- “A Gurung Man Explains the Worship of Ton”
- “A Gurung Woman Describes Her Hotel”
- “A Gurung Man Describes the Health Care in his Village”
- “A Gurung Man Describes the History of the Village Taal”
- “A Gurung Man Describes Herbs”
- “A Gurung Man Describes the Traditions of the Village Otar”
- “A Gurung Teacher Describes the Village Otar”
- “A Gurung Man Describes the Migration of His Family”
- “A Gurung Man Describes the History of the Surrounding Villages”
- “A Gurung Man Describes the History of Traditions of his Village”
- “A Gurung Man Describes the Shortage of Water in his Village”
- “The Pear Story in Western Gurung”
2. Gyalsumdo (Lama Bhaasa, Glottocode gyal1235)
- “A Chame Woman Describes the Process of Making Rice Wine”
- “A Gyalsumdo Speaker from Bagarchhap Descibes a Landslide”
- “A Gyalsumdo Man Describes The Festivals in His Town”
- “A Gyalsumdo Man Explains The History of His Village”
- “A Gyalsumdo Woman Describes Objects In Her Kitchen”
- “A Gyalsumdo Speaker Describes the History, Traditions and Origins of His Village”
- “A Gyalsumdo Speaker Describes the History of the Clans and Communities in Gyalsumdo”
- “A Gyalsumdo Speaker Describes His Life and Regaining His Land”
- “A Gyalsumdo Speaker Describes the History of Government in His Village”
- “A Gyalsumdo Woman Explains How to Make Tea”
- “A Gyalsumdo Woman Describes Her Family History and Profession”
- “A Woman from Gyalsumdo Describes Objects in Her Kitchen and Her Life”
- “A Gyalsumdo Man Explains His Religious Beliefs”
- “A Gyalsumdo Woman Describes Her Wedding Ceremony”
- “A Gyalsumdo Speaker Describes the History of His Family”
- “A Gyalsumdo Speaker Describes His Village and Military Career”
- “A Gyalsumdo Woman Describes Her Family”
- “A Gyalsumdo Male Describes the Mineral Water Factory in Koto”
- “Ngima Pincho Lama, Danakyu village”
- “A Narphu Woman Describes the Reasons for Migration”
- “A Narphu Man Describes the Importance of Yarshagompa”
- “A Narphu Man and Woman Describe Their Livelihood”
- “A Narphu Man Describes Death Rituals in His Village”
- “A Narphu Man Describes the Hardships He Faced When Young”
- “A Narphu Man Describes the Livelihood of The People in The Village”
- “A Narphu Man Describes About Establishing A Water Factory”
- “A Narphu Woman Grinds Salt for Yaks”
- “A Woman from Nar Describes Her Life and Family”
- “A Narphu Man Describes His Experiences”
- “A Narphu Woman Describes Her Travels”
- “A Narphu Man Describes the History of Phu Village”
- “A Narphu Woman Describes the Hotel”
- “A Narphu Woman Describes the Events of a Day”
- “A Narphu Woman Describes Her Life”
- “A Narphu Man Describes His Yaks”
- “Ngawal Man Talks about History”
- “Ngawal Woman Talks about Her Family”
- “Woman from Ghyaru Village Describes How the Village Survives”
- “A Man from Tengki Describes the Marriage Tradition”
- “Man from Pisang Village Talks about History”
- “Man from Pisang Village Talks about Himself”
- “Manange Man Describes the significance of Mountains in his Village”
- “A Manange Man Describes his Role as a Village Chef”
- “A Manange Woman Describes her Past Job and Family”
- “A Manange Man Describes His Hotel Business”
- “A Manange Man Describes His Trade in HongKong”
- “A Manange Woman Describes Her School”
- “A Manange Woman Describes Snowfall and its Effects”
- “A Manange Man Describes the Hyortong Festival”
- “A Manange Man Describes the Significance of Tilicho Lake”
- “A Manange Man Decribes the History of Braka Gumba”
- “A Manange Man Describes Drinking Water Problem”
- “A Manange Man Describes Funeral Rituals”
Bird, S. and G. Simons. 2003. Seven dimensions of portability for language documentation and description. Language 79.3.557-82.
Hildebrandt, K.A. 2007. Phonology and fieldwork in Nepal: Problems and potentials. 33-44 in P. Austin, O. Bond and D. Nathan, eds. Proceedings of the
conference on language documentation and linguistic theory. London: SOAS.
Himmelmann, N. 1998. Documentary and descriptive linguistics. Linguistics 36.161-195.
Lüpke, F. 2008. Fieldwork: Consultation and elicitation methods. Paper presented at ELDP training, 11-17 June, 2008, HRELP, SOAS, London, UK.
Mosel, U. 2004. Dictionary making in endangered speech communities. 39-54 in P. Austin, ed., Language documentation and description. Vol. 2, Endangered
Languages Project. London: SOAS.
Nichols, J. 1984. Functional theories of grammar. Annual Review of Anthropology. 13. 97-117.
Schultze-Berndt, E. 2006. Linguistic annotation. 213-251 in J. Gippert, N.P. Himmelmann and U. Mosel. Essentials of Language Documentation. Mouton.