Language Documentation & Conservation, vol. 8 (2014)

Contributions to LD&C are now published upon acceptance. Below are all the contributions accepted for volume 8 (January–December 2014).

In addition to our normal offering of excellent articles, in Volume 8 we have published three sets of themed articles: Language Documentation in the Americas edited by Keren Rice and Bruna Franchetto; The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia edited by John Henderson; How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.

This volume also marks the retirement of our founding editor, Ken Rehg. It was his vision that established LD&C with resources from the NFLRC and University of Hawai’i and it has gone from strength to strength, always with the benefit of his guidance. The editorial team at LD&C wishes him a long and happy retirement


Using TEI for an Endangered Language Lexical Resource: The Nxaʔamxcín Database-Dictionary Project
Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins, Martin D. Holmes, and Sarah M. Kell, pp. 1–37

This paper describes the evolution of a lexical resource project for Nxaʔamxcín, an endangered Salish language, from the project’s inception in the 1990s, based on legacy materials recorded in the 1960s and 1970s, to its current form as an online database that is transformable into various print and web-based formats for varying uses. We illustrate how we are using TEI P5 for data-encoding and archiving and show that TEI is a mature, reliable, flexible standard which is a valuable tool for lexical and morphological markup and for the production of lexical resources. Lexical resource creation, as is the case with language documentation and description more generally, benefits from portability and thus from conformance to standards (Bird and Simons 2003, Thieberger 2011). This paper therefore also discusses standards harmonization, focusing on our attempt to achieve interoperability in format and terminology between our database and standards proposed for LMF, RELISH and GOLD. We show that, while it is possible to achieve interoperability, ultimately it is difficult to do so convincingly, thus raising questions about what conformance to standards means in practice.

Integrating Language Documentation, Language Preservation, and Linguistic Research: Working with the Kokamas from the Amazon
Rosa Vallejos, pp. 38–65

This paper highlights the role of speech community members on a series of interconnected projects to document, study and maintain Kokama, a deeply endangered language from the Peruvian Amazon. The remaining fluent speakers of the language are mostly older than 60 years of age, are spread out across various small villages, and speak the language in very restricted situations. The aim of this paper is twofold. First, it demonstrates with concrete examples that outcomes of projects implemented in collaboration with speakers yield more broadly useful outcomes than those conducted by a linguist working alone. Second, it underscores the significance of documenting language interaction among different types of speakers in accordance with the view that language preservation is not only about promoting a linguistic code, but also includes documenting communicative practices. The projects reported here can contribute to the development of fieldwork methodologies to work with a range of speakers. The involvement of community members has been crucial for the design of culturally relevant strategies to assess fluency in Kokama, for the naturalness and variety within the collected data, and for the documentation of interactional patterns essential for revitalization initiatives. This paper supports the view that language documentation, language preservation, and linguistic research can be complementary endeavors.

More than Words: Towards a Development-Based Approach to Language Revitalization
Brent Henderson, Peter Rohloff, and Robert Henderson, pp. 75–91

Existing models for language revitalization focus almost exclusively on language learning and use. While recognizing the value of these models, we argue that their effective application is largely limited to situations in which languages have low numbers of speakers. For languages that are rapidly undergoing language shift, but which still maintain large vital communities of speakers, a model for revitalization is currently lacking. We offer the beginnings of such a model here, arguing that in these communities doing language revitalization must primarily mean addressing the causes of language shift, a task that we argue can be undertaken in collaborative efforts with social development organizations. The model contrasts strongly (though complementarily) with existing models in that it focuses on work in which explicitly language-focused activities are undertaken only as intentional support for social development projects. Where successful, we argue this approach achieves language revitalization goals in organic and sustainable ways that are much more difficult for language-focused programs to achieve. It therefore has the potential to stop and potentially reverse language shift in specific ways. We offer our experiences with Wuqu’ Kawoq|Maya Health Alliance, a healthcare NGO in Guatemala, which attempts to follow this model, as evidence for the model’s viability.

Using Gesture to Teach Seneca in a Language Nest School
Melissa Elayne Borgia, pp. 92–99

Seneca elder Sandy Dowdy and her granddaughter Autumn Crouse direct a language nest school for children aged two to five years in a small longhouse-shaped building, Ganöhsesge:kha:’ Hë:nödeyë:sta’:, or the FaithKeepers School, on the Seneca Allegany Territory in upstate New York. They practice immersion teaching and use forms of gesturing to teach the children both conversational and spiritual functions of Seneca, capitalizing on the belief that the use of gesturing is an effective tool for teaching children, especially those in the toddler range. Gesturing is useful because language and gesture are positively linked, signing links concepts to verbal learning, gesture helps aid memory, and incorporating gesture while learning a language encourages active learning. Gesturing also helps children learn complex concepts, which is ideal for teaching Seneca since the children are learning the Ganö:nyök, literally, ‘let it be used for expressing thanks’ and otherwise known as the Thanksgiving Address, a daily recitation that expresses thankfulness for all of creation.

Documenting and Researching Endangered Languages: The Pangloss Collection
Boyd Michailovsky, Martine Mazaudon, Alexis Michaud, Séverine Guillaume, Alexandre François, and Evangelia Adamou, pp. 119–135

The Pangloss Collection is a language archive developed since 1994 at the Langues et Civilisations à Tradition Orale (LACITO) research group of the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS). It contributes to the documentation and study of the world’s languages by providing free access to documents of connected, spontaneous speech, mostly in endangered or under-resourced languages, recorded in their cultural context and transcribed in consultation with native speakers. The Collection is an Open Archive containing media files (recordings), text annotations, and metadata; it currently contains over 1,400 recordings in 70 languages, including more than 400 transcribed and annotated documents. The annotations consist of transcription, free translation in English, French and/or other languages, and, in many cases, word or morpheme glosses; they are time-aligned with the recordings, usually at the utterance level. A web interface makes these annotations accessible online in an interlinear display format, in synchrony with the sound, using any standard browser. The structure of the XML documents makes them accessible to searching and indexing, always preserving the links to the recordings. Long-term preservation is guaranteed through a partnership with a digital archive. A guiding principle of the Pangloss Collection is that a close association between documentation and research is highly profitable to both. This article presents the collections currently available; it also aims to convey a sense of the range of possibilities they offer to the scientific and speaker communities and to the general public.

Training in the Community-Collaborative Context: A Case Study
Racquel-María Yamada, pp. 326-344

Emerging community-based methodologies call for collaboration with speech community members. Although motivated, community members may lack the tools or training to contribute actively. In response, many linguists deliver training workshops in documentation or preservation, while others train community members to record data. Although workshops address immediate needs, they are limited to what the individual linguist can teach. Speech community linguists may articulate goals beyond what one researcher can undertake. This creates a need for more advanced training than can be provided in the field. This paper uses a case study example to illustrate how the need for advanced training can be met through university-based workshops. It describes the process, challenges, and outcomes of bringing a nine-member team of Kari’nja (Cariban) speakers from Konomerume, Suriname to Eugene, Oregon for the 2010 Northwest Indian Language Institute’s (NILI) annual Summer Institute and the Institute on Field Linguistics and Language Documentation (InField). Lessons learned are situated in the context of community-collaborative methodologies, and a central role for training is articulated. This paper demonstrates that collaboration need not be limited to academic and speech communities, but rather can extend to a greater population of individuals who share an interest in promoting linguistic diversity.

Developing a Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages
Catherine Bow, Michael Christie, and Brian Devlin, pp. 345-360

The fluctuating fortunes of Northern Territory bilingual education programs in Australian languages and English have put at risk thousands of books developed for these programs in remote schools. In an effort to preserve such a rich cultural and linguistic heritage, the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages project is establishing an open access, online repository comprising digital versions of these materials. Using web technologies to store and access the resources makes them accessible to the communities of origin, the wider academic community, and the general public. The process of creating, populating, and implementing such an archive has posed many interesting technical, cultural and linguistic challenges, some of which are explored in this paper

yaʕ̓tmín cqwəlqwilt nixw, uł nixw, ul nixw, I need to speak more, and more, and more: Okanagan-Colville (Interior Salish) Indigenous second-language learners share our filmed narratives
Michele K. Johnson (Sʔímlaʔxw), pp. 136–167

way’, iskwíst, my name is, Sʔímlaʔxw, and I am from Penticton BC, Canada. kn sqilxw. I am a Syilx (Okanagan, Interior Salish) adult language learner. My cohort and I are midway in our language transformation to become proficient speakers. Our names are Prasát, Sʔímlaʔxw, C’ər̓tups, Xwnámx̌wnam, Staʔqwálqs, and our Elder, Sʕamtíc’aʔ. We created an adult immersion house, deep in Syilx territory, and lived and studied together for five months. We combined intensive curricular study, cutting-edge second-language acquisition techniques, filmed assessments, and immersion with our Elder. We emerged transformed—we are n’łəqwcin, clear speakers, speaking at an intermediate level. There has been very little written about assessment of Indigenous language teaching methods or Indigenous language speaking ability, and much less written about filmed learning and assessment. Three films were created in our language, nqilxwcn, and placed on YouTube. The films give primacy to our personal narratives, document and share our transformation, speaking abilities, grassroots language activism and learning methods. This paper describes the films, my cohort’s transformation, assesses our speaking ability, describes Paul Creek Language Association curriculum, and represents a contribution to Indigenous language teaching methods, assessment and nqilxwcn revitalization.

iskwíst Sʔímlaʔxw, kn t̓l snpintktn. kn sqilxw uł kn səcmipnwíłn nqilxwcn. axáʔ inq̓əy̓mín iscm̓aʔm̓áy. kwu kcilcəl̓kst kwu capsíw̓s, iʔ sqəlxwskwskwístət Prasát, Sʔímlaʔxw, C̓ər̓tups, X̌wnámx̌wnam, Staʔqwálqs, naʔł iʔ ƛ̓x̌aptət, Sʕamtíc̓aʔ. kwu kwliwt l̓ nqilxwn iʔ citxwtət cilkst iʔ x̌yałnəx̌w uł isck̓wúl̓ kaʔłís iʔ tə syaʔyáʔx̌aʔ. iʔ l̓ syaʔyáʔx̌aʔtət, caʔkw mi wikntp iʔ scm̓am̓áy̓aʔtət iʔ kłyankxó nqilxwcn iʔ sc̓ʕaʕ̓ác̓s, kwu cnqilxwcnm, kwu səck̓waʔkwúl̓m nqilxwcn, uł kwu x̌əstwilx iʔ scqwwʔqwʔáltət. xəc̓xac̓t iʔ sckwul̓tət, naxəmł ksxan iʔ tl̓ silíʔtət iʔ l̓ kiʔláwnaʔ iʔ sn̓ilíʔtns kwu ctixwlm. ʕapnáʔ kwu capsíw̓s uł kwu n̓łəqwcin. wtntím iʔ syaʔyáʔx̌aʔtət l̓ YouTube uł iʔ scx̌minktət caʔkw ksʕaysnwím iʔ scsm̓am̓áy̓tət, kłyankxó iʔ sck̓wul̓səlx, uł caʔkw cʔkin iʔ ł sk̓waʔkwúlm iʔ nqəlqílxwcn iʔ kscm̓am̓áy̓aʔx, uł caʔkw mi łxwl̓al aʔ nqəlqilxwcntət.

Beyond the Ancestral Code: Towards a Model for Sociolinguistic Language Documentation
Tucker Childs, Jeff Good, and Alice Mitchell, pp. 168–191

Most language documentation efforts focus on capturing lexico-grammatical information on individual languages. Comparatively little effort has been devoted to considering a language’s sociolinguistic contexts. In parts of the world characterized by high degrees of multilingualism, questions surrounding the factors involved in language choice and the relationship between ‘communities’ and ‘languages’ are clearly of interest to documentary linguistics, and this paper considers these issues by reporting on the results of a workshop held on sociolinguistic documentation in Sub-Saharan Africa. Over sixty participants from Africa and elsewhere discussed theoretical and methodological issues relating to the documentation of language in its social context. Relevant recommendations for projects wishing to broaden into the realm of sociolinguistic language documentation include: a greater emphasis on conversational data and the documentation of naturally occurring conversation; developing metadata conventions to allow for more nuanced descriptions of socio cultural settings; encouraging teamwork and interdisciplinary collaboration in order to extend the scope of sociolinguistic documentation; collecting sociolinguistic data which can inform language planning and policy; and creating opportunities for training in sociolinguistic documentation. Consideration of sociolinguistic language documentation also raises significant questions regarding the ways in which Western language ideologies, which have been especially prominent in shaping documentary agendas, may be unduly influencing documentary practice in other parts of the world.

Using Mixed Media Tools for Eliciting Discourse in Indigenous Languages
Marion Caldecott and Karsten Koch, pp. 209–240

Prosody plays a vital role in communication, but is one of the most widely neglected topics in language documentation. This omission is doubly detrimental since intonation is unrecoverable from transcribed texts, the most prevalent data sources for many indigenous languages. One of the underlying reasons for the dearth of prosodic data is methodological. Modern technology has removed technical barriers to recording the appropriate data, but traditional methods of elicitation still inhibit accurate documentation of linguistic structures at or above the phrasal level. In addition, these methods do not facilitate the mobilization of linguistic documentation. In this paper, we present techniques that we have developed that address both these concerns: 1) eliciting prosodic data for theoretical analysis, and 2) producing linguistic materials that can be useful for educators and curriculum developers. Highlighting advantages and disadvantages, we compare traditional elicitation and text-gathering methods with two non-traditional methodologies using non-verbal stimuli. These two non-traditional methodologies are aimed at collecting: 1) spontaneous conversation (either unguided, or task-oriented), and 2) partly scripted conversation (aided by multimedia tools). The methodologies are illustrated with original fieldwork on focus and intonation in two related, endangered Interior Salish languages–Nlhe7kepmxcín (Thompson) and St’át’imcets (Lillooet).

Ex-situ Documentation of Ethnobiology
Francesca Lahe-Deklin and Aung Si, pp. 788-809

Migrant speakers of endangered languages living in urban centers in developed countries represent a valuable resource through which these languages may be conveniently documented. Here, we first present a general methodology by which linguists can compile a meaningful set of visual (and sometimes audio) stimuli with which to carry out a reasonably detailed ethnobiological elicitation session in an ‘ex-situ’ setting, such as an urban university. We then showcase some preliminary results of such an elicitation carried out on the Dumo, or Vanimo, language of north-western Papua New Guinea during a linguistic field methods course at the Australian National University. With the help of a region-specific set of visual stimuli obtained from various sources, it was possible to document many fascinating aspects of the fish, and other marine-biological, knowledge of Dumo speakers, along with detailed ethnographic notes on the cultural significance of marine creatures.

Language Documentation in the Americas
, in the series Language Documentation in the Americas edited by Keren Rice and Bruna Franchetto.
Bruna Franchetto and Keren Rice, pp. 251-261

In the last decades, the documentation of endangered languages has advanced greatly in the Americas. In this paper we survey the role that international funding programs have played in advancing documentation in this part of the world, with a particular focus on the growth of documentation in Brazil, and we examine some of the major opportunities and challenges involved in documentation in the Americas, focusing on participatory research models.

Collaboration in the Context of Teaching, Scholarship, and Language Revitalization: Experience from the Chatino Language Documentation Project, in the series Language Documentation in the Americas edited by Keren Rice and Bruna Franchetto.
Emiliana Cruz and Anthony C. Woodbury, pp. 262-286

We describe our own experience of linguist-community collaboration over the last ten years in our Chatino Language Documentation Project, focused on the Chatino languages (Otomanguean; Oaxaca, Mexico). We relate episodes in the emergence and evolution of the collaboration between ourselves, and of the collaboration among ourselves and the Chatino communities with which we have worked. Our experience has several special features. First, our own collaboration began as native Chatino-speaking Ph.D. student and her teacher in a program focused on training speakers of Latin American indigenous languages in linguistics and anthropology, and developed into a larger collaboration among students and faculty where the student had a major leadership role. Second, our approach was documentary-descriptive and comparative, but it was also socially engaged or ‘activist,’, in that we sought to promote interest, awareness, and respect for the Chatino languages, to teach and support Chatino literacy, and to preserve and offer access to spoken Chatino, especially traditional verbal art. Our approach had synergies with local interests in writing and in honoring traditional speech ways, but it also led to conflicts over our roles as social actors, and the traditionally activist roles of indigenous teachers. Third, we experienced plasticity in the collaborative roles we played. Between ourselves, we were student and teacher, but also initiator and follower as we became engaged in revitalization. At the same time, the native speaker linguist found herself occupying a range of positions along a continuum from “insider” to “outsider” respect to her own community.

The Pleasures and Pitfalls of a ‘Participatory’ Documentation Project: An Experience in Northwestern Amazonia, in the series Language Documentation in the Americas edited by Keren Rice and Bruna Franchetto.
Kristine Stenzel, pp. 287-306

This article adds a voice from Amazonia to the reflective discussion on documentation projects designed within a ‘participatory’ or ‘collaborative’ paradigm of language research. It offers a critical assessment of one such documentation project carried out from 2007-2011 with the Kotiria and Wa’ikhana (East Tukano) language communities, who live in the remote Vaupés basin of the northwest Amazon. It examines aspects of the four-year project that most approximated the participative ideals that inspired it, including community input throughout all phases of the project, a ‘team-based’ approach grounded in local partnerships, and efforts to establish a more equitable division of power and responsibility, as well as greater self-determination in the organization of documentation activities. It also points out some of the difficulties encountered along the way and raises questions related to expectations, unforeseen consequences, and sustainability, questions that still remain to be answered.

When is a linguist not a linguist: the multifarious activities and expectations for a linguist in an Australian language centre in the series The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia edited by John Henderson.
Adriano Truscott, pp. 384-408

The role of linguists employed in Aboriginal community language centres requires three considerations to be addressed by the language centres themselves, by the linguists and by the organisations that prepare them: what is required of the linguist by language centres; to what extent does the linguist’s own skills, interests and ideology match what is required by their position; and how the linguist’s capabilities can best be matched to the requirements of the language centre. These three considerations are complex, in part specific to each language centre, and can involve skills that are not immediately oriented to, or transferable from, academic knowledge and skills. The sensitive and urgent nature of language revitalisation means that high expectations are often placed on the linguist by the language centre, which can lead to disappointment for all parties in various ways, and could even compromise the effectiveness of the language revitalisation. This paper attempts to critically address these three dimensions in relation to a Western Australian language centre, focussing on a case study of a community-based languages exhibition that took place in 2008. It describes the context of the language centre and then considers the role of the linguist operating within a sociolinguistically-oriented theoretical and methodological framework to revitalize languages, identifying different conceptualisations of the role. The case study explores the range of requirements made of the linguist during the languages exhibition project, and presents some reflections on the role in that context.

Reclaiming the Kaurna language: a long and lasting collaboration in an urban setting in the series The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia edited by John Henderson.
Rob Amery, pp. 409-429

A long-running collaboration between Kaurna people and linguists in South Australia began in 1989 with a songbook. Following annual community workshops and the establishment of teaching programs, the author embarked on a PhD to research historical sources and an emerging modern language based on these sources. In response to numerous requests for names, translations and information, together with Kaurna Elders Lewis O’Brien and Alitya Rigney, the author and others formed Kaurna Warra Pintyandi (KWP) in 2002. It is a monthly forum where researchers, and others interested in Kaurna language, can meet with Kaurna people to discuss their concerns. KWP, based at the University of Adelaide, is not incorporated and attendance of meetings is voluntary. The committee has gained a measure of credibility and respect from the Kaurna community, government departments and the public and has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Adelaide. However, KWP and the author sit, uneasily at times, at the intersection between the University and the community. This paper explores the nature of collaboration between Kaurna people and researchers through KWP in the context of reliance on historical documentation, much of which is open to interpretation. Linguistics provides some of the skills needed for interpretation of source materials. This is complemented by knowledge held by Kaurna people that is known through oral history, spirituality and intuition.

Linguists and language rebuilding: recent experience in two New South Wales languages in the series The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia edited by John Henderson.
Giacon, John, pp. 430-451

This paper primarily considers the role of linguists in the process of language rebuilding, or language revival, that is, the process of working with a language that is no longer spoken so that it is spoken again. The paper is largely based on experience with Gamilaraay and Yuwaalaraay, two closely-related languages from northern New South Wales in Australia, but also on experience with other languages.

Between duty statement and reality – The “Linguist/Coordinator” at an Australian Indigenous language centre in the series The Role of Linguists in Indigenous Community Language Programs in Australia edited by John Henderson.
Knut J.Olawsky, pp. 361-383

The size of Australian Indigenous language centres varies from small programs with a single employment position up to large organisations which may involve several linguists, a manager and a range of support staff. This article is based on the linguist’s work at an organisation at the smaller end of the scale – Mirima Dawang Woorlabgerring Language and Culture Centre (MDWg), which operates out of Kununurra in the remote East Kimberley Region of Western Australia. Following a brief introduction to the context and history of language work at MDWg, the author sheds light on typical community expectations, which cover an array of different language-related and nonlinguistic tasks. In a scenario where the linguist and coordinator roles are assigned to a single person it becomes clear that the range of duties can be overwhelmingly diverse and go beyond anything a linguist is exposed to during his/her academic studies. The article proceeds by identifying a range of challenges for a linguist/coordinator, addressing issues such as efficiency, balance, burnout and career planning. For each challenge, possible solutions are offered, with the vision of turning challenge into opportunity. The article concludes with a set of recommendations directed at various stakeholders in the work of Indigenous language centres.

Computational support for early elicitation and classification of tone in the series How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.
(Link to the article without embedded media)
Steven Bird and Haejoong Lee, pp. 453-461

Investigating a tone language involves careful transcription of tone on words and phrases. This is challenging when the phonological categories – the tones or melodies – have not been identified. Effects such as coarticulation, sandhi, and phrase-level prosody appear as obstacles to early elicitation and classification of tone. This article presents open source software that can assist with solving this problem. Users listen to words and phrases of interest, before grouping them into clusters having the same tonal properties. In this manner, it is possible to quickly annotate words of interest in extended recordings, and compare items that may be widely separated in the source audio to obtain consistent labelling. Users have reported that it is possible to train one’s ear to pick up on the linguistically salient distinctions. The approach is illustrated with data from Eastern Chatino (Mexico) and Alekano (Papua New Guinea).

Strategies for analyzing tone languages in the series How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.
(Link to the article without embedded media)
Alexander R. Coupe, pp. 462-489

This paper outlines a method of auditory and acoustic analysis for determining the tonemes of a language starting from scratch, drawing on the author’s experience of recording and analyzing tone languages of north-east India. The methodology is applied to a preliminary analysis of tone in the Thang dialect of Khiamniungan, a virtually undocumented language of extreme eastern Nagaland and adjacent areas of the Sagaing Division Myanmar (Burma). Following a discussion of strategies for ensuring that data appropriate for tonal analysis will be recorded, the practical demonstration begins with a description of how tone categories can be established according to their syllable type in the preliminary auditory analysis. The paper then uses this data to describe a method of acoustic analysis that ultimately permits the representation of pitch shapes as a function of absolute mean duration. The analysis of grammatical tones, floating tones and tone sandhi are exemplified with Mongsen Ao data, and a description of a perception test demonstrates how this can be used to corroborate the auditory and acoustic analysis of a tone system.

Finding a way into a family of tone languages: The story and methods of the Chatino Language Documentation Project in the series How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.
(Link to the article without embedded media)
Emiliana Cruz and Anthony C Woodbury, pp. 490-524

We give a narrative description of our ten-year path into the elaborate tonal systems of the Chatino languages (Otomanguean; Oaxaca, Mexico), and of some of the methods we have used and recommend, illustrated with specific examples. The work, ongoing at the time of writing, began when one of us (Cruz), a native speaker of San Juan Quiahije Chatino, entered the University of Texas at Austin as a Ph.D. student and formed, together with the other of us (Woodbury), a professor there, the Chatino Language Documentation Project, ultimately incorporating five other Ph.D. students and two other senior researchers. We argue for the importance of an interplay among speaker and non-speaker perspectives over the long course of work; a mix of introspection, hypothesis-testing, natural speech recording, transcription, translation, grammatical analysis, and dictionary-making as research methods and activities; an emphasis on community training as an active research context; the simultaneous study of many varieties within a close-knit language family to leverage progress; and the use of historical-comparative methods to get to know tonal systems and the roles they play at a deeper level.

How To Study a Tone Language in the series How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.
Larry Hyman, pp. 525-562

In response to requests I have often got as to how one approaches a tone language, I present a personal view of the three stages involved, starting from scratch and arriving at an analysis: Stage I: Determining the tonal contrasts and their approximate phonetic allotones. Stage II: Discovering any tonal alternations (“morphotonemics”). Stage III: establishing the tonal analysis itself. While most emphasis in the literature concerns this last stage, I show how the analysis crucially depends on the first two. A detailed illustration is presented from Oku, a Grassfields Bantu language spoken in Cameroon on which I personally worked in the field. The paper concludes with discussion of issues arising in other tone languages, illustrated by Corejuage (Tukanoan, Colombia), Peñoles Mixtec (Otomanguean, Mexico), Villa Alta Yatzachi Zapotec (Otomanguean, Mexico), Luganda (Bantu, Uganda), Hakha Lai (Tibeto-Burman, Myanmar and Northeast India), and Haya (Bantu, Tanzania).

Studying Tonal Complexity, with a special reference to Mande languages in the series How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.
Maria Konoshenko, pp. 563-586

Linguists tend to believe that total complexity of human languages is invariable. In order to test this hypothesis empirically, we need to calculate the complexity in different domains of language structure: phonology, morphology, syntax, etc. In this paper I provide some guidelines for documenting tonal systems and evaluating their complexity. I then apply my methodology to the Mande languages of West Africa and test a tonal equi-complexity hypothesis which says that languages with more tonal contrasts tend to have fewer tonal rules and vice versa. The data presented do not support such a concept of tonal equi-complexity in the domain of phonology, but there is a strong positive correlation between the number of tonal contrasts and the number of tonal morphemes. My explanation is that tonal contrasts and tonal morphemes tend to appear as a result of segmental loss, so the two phenomena are likely to co-occur.

Studying emergent tone-systems in Nepal: Pitch, phonation and word-tone in Tamang in the series How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.
(Link to the article without embedded media)
Martine Mazaudon, pp. 587-612

This paper focuses on the particular kinds of difficulties which arise in the study of an emergent tone-system, exemplified by Tamang in Nepal, where pitch, phonation and other laryngeal features combine in the definition of a tone. As a consequence, conducting a well-ordered analysis in stages first of phonetic transcription, then variation in context, then interpretation is not possible. Rather we have to discover the contrasting categories first, and study their phonetic realization next, or do both at the same time. This also leads to questioning the validity of the traditional distinction of features into “distinctive” and “redundant” and proposing instead an analysis of an abstract “tone” as a bundle of cues. We will only sketch the second characteristic of the Tamang tone system, the extension of tone over the phonological word. The contributions of instrumental studies and of a comparative-historical perspective are discussed.

The Study of tone and related phenomena in an Amazonian tone language: Gavião of Rondônia in the series How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.
(Link to the article without embedded media)
Denny Moore and Julien Meyer, pp. 613-636

This paper describes the methods used to study the tone and some related phenomena of the language of the Gavião of Rondônia, Brazil, which is part of the Mondé branch of the Tupi family. Whistling of words by indigenous informants was discovered to be a very effective method for obtaining phonetic accuracy in tone and length. Methods were devised to map out the system of tone and length. They were subsequently used in the study of other Amazonian languages, including Karitiana, Munduruku, Zoró, and Surui of Rondônia, with success. Some notes on tone considerations in orthography are offered, as well as notes on procedures that proved useful in the diachronic study of tone in the Mondé languages. Methods for the study of natural whistled speech used for distance communication are also described, with special attention to the whistled speech of the Gavião, including its use, its efficiency, and the whistling techniques used. The relation between some aspects of Gavião instrumental music and the suprasegmental aspects of the language are also discussed and the methods used to study this are described. Audio and video clips illustrate the phenomena being discussed.

Studying tones in North East India: Tai, Singpho and Tangsa in the series How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.
(Link to the article without embedded media)
Stephen Morey, pp. 637-671

Drawing on nearly 20 years of study of a variety of languages in North East India, from the Tai and Tibeto-Burman families, this paper examines the issues involved in studying those languages, building on three well established principles: (a) tones are categories within a language, and the recognition of those categories is the key step in describing the tonal system; (b) in at least some languages, tones are a bundle of features, of which (relative) pitch is only one; and (c) tones may carry different levels of functional load in different languages. I will discuss the use of historical and comparative data to assist with tonal analysis, while raising the possibility that the tonal categories of individual words may vary from one language variety to the next. Different approaches to marking tones, for linguistic transcriptions, presentation of acoustic data (F0) and in practical orthographies are discussed, along with the effect of intonation and grammatical factors such as nominalisation on the realisation of tones.

The study of tone in languages with a quantity contrast in the series How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.
(Link to the article without embedded media)
Bert Remijsen, pp. 672-689

This paper deals with the study of tone in languages that additionally have a phonological contrastive of quantity, such as vowel length or stress. In such complex word-prosodic systems, tone and the quantity contrast(s) can be fully independent of one another, or they may interact. Both of these configurations are illustrated in this paper, and the phonetic pressures underlying the development of interactions are laid out. The paper pays particular attention to the challenge of investigating complex word-prosodic systems. Central to the approach advocated here is the combination of qualitative fieldwork data collection methods with instrumental analysis.

On beginning the study of the tone system of a Dene (Athabaskan) language: Looking back in the series How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.
Keren Rice, pp. 690-706

In this paper I review the methodology that I used in beginning my early fieldwork on a tonal Athabaskan language, including preparation through reading and listening, working with speakers, organizing data, and describing and analyzing the data, stressing how these are not steps or stages, but intersect and interact with each other.

On Establishing Underlying Tonal Contrast in the series How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.
Keith Snider, pp. 707-737

Phonological field work is largely about establishing contrast in comparable environments. The notion of phonological contrast, however, can be confusing, particularly in its application to tone analysis. Does it mean phonemic contrast in the structuralist sense, or does it mean underlying contrast in the generative sense? Many linguists, in publications otherwise written from a generative perspective, support underlying tonal contrasts with minimal pairs and other data that are based on structuralist criteria. This paper critiques how tonal contrast is often supported in the literature and demonstrates that many supposed minimal pairs are invalid from a generative perspective. It further demonstrates that because many morphemes in tone languages consist solely of floating tones, the potential for these cannot be ignored when establishing comparable phonological environments.

The experimental state of mind in elicitation: illustrations from tonal fieldwork in the series How to Study a Tone Language edited by Steven Bird and Larry Hyman.
Kristine M. Yu, pp. 738-777

This paper illustrates how an “experimental state of mind”, i.e. principles of experimental design, can inform hypothesis generation and testing in structured fieldwork elicitation. The application of these principles is demonstrated with case studies in toneme discovery. Pike’s classic toneme discovery procedure is shown to be a special case of the application of experimental design. It is recast in two stages: (1) the inference of the hidden structure of tonemes based on unexplained variability in the pitch contour remaining, even after other sources of influence on the pitch contour are accounted for, and (2) the confirmation of systematic effects of hypothesized tonal classes on the pitch contour in elicitations structured to control for confounding variables that could obscure the relation between tonal classes and the pitch contour. Strategies for controlling the confounding variables, such as blocking and randomization, are discussed. The two stages are exemplified using data elicited from the early stages of toneme discovery in Kirikiri, a language of New Guinea.


Reviewed by Sarah Ruth Moeller, pp. 66–74

The Sony NEX-VG30 video camera: A review for use in language documentation
Reviewed by Joshua Wilbur, pp. 100–112

Gabmap: Doing Dialect Analysis on the Web
Reviewed by Conor Snoek, pp. 192–208

Using the Livescribe Echo Smartpen for Language Documentation
Reviewed by Michal Temkin Martinez, pp. 241–250

Arbil: Free Tool for Creating, Editing, and Searching Metadata
Reviewed by: Rebecca Defina, pp. 307-314

Review of Mukurtu Content Management System
Reviewed by Michael Shepard, pp. 315-325


The last speakers: The quest to save the world’s most endangered languages, by K. David Harrison
Reviewed by Tyler Heston, pp. 113–118

For the sake of a song: Wangga songmen and their repositories
by Allan Marett, Linda Barwick, and Lysbeth Ford
Reviewed by: Richard Moyle, pp. 778-780

Review of Developing Orthographies for Unwritten Languages
by Michael Cahill and Keren Rice (eds.)
Reviewed by: David Roberts, pp. 781-787


Baskeet Phonological Sketch and Digital Wordlist
(Link to the article without embedded media)
Yvonne Treis and Alexander Werth, pp. 810-832

Comments are closed.