The National Foreign Language Resource Center’s free and open-access journal Language Documentation & Conservation is proud to release two special publications:
The Social Cognition Parallax Interview Corpus (SCOPIC) provides naturalistic but cross-linguistically-matched corpus data with enriched annotations of grammatical categories relevant to social cognition. By ‘parallax corpus’ we mean ‘broadly comparable formulations resulting from a comparable task’, to avoid the implications of ‘parallel corpus’ that there will be exact semantic equivalence across languages. The problem with that, from a semantic typologist’s point of view, is that it can only be achieved by privileging the semantic structure of the source language in the translations, and that it prevents us from studying the fundamental question of how languages – or the formulation practices of speech communities – bias the expression of particular categories in language-specific ways.
The papers in this special publication are the result of presentations and follow-up dialogue on emergent and alternative methods to documenting variation in endangered, minority, or otherwise under-represented languages. Recent decades have seen a burgeoning interest in many aspects of language documentation and field linguistics and there is also a great deal of material dealing with language variation in major languages.
In contrast, intersections of language variation in endangered and minority languages are still few in number. Yet examples of those few cases published on the intersection of language documentation and language variation reveal exciting potentials for linguistics as a discipline, challenging and supporting classical models, creating new models and predictions.
From January 7-10 2016 at the annual meeting of the Linguistic Society of America in Washington, D.C., the Committee on Endangered Languages and their Preservation (CELP) held a symposium that included oral presentations that articulate general issues, specific examples and potential consequences of variationist methods applied in language documentation scenarios, followed by a panel discussion. This present collection includes seven contributions that grew out of this symposium and from subsequent conversations and interaction between the contributors and organizers.