DOBES Archive

Second part of casual recording of comparative SNG wordlist, focusing on Nambo. Recorded item numbers 112-279. Wordlist is archived as .pdf: nqn-ncm_SNG-wordlist.pdf Keywords: elicitation, wordlist
Paper presented at the 2012 DoBeS Workshop: The impact of DoBeS-related technology on empirical and theoretical linguistics. An important argument for language documentation stresses the way that traditional ethnobiological knowledge is woven into, and transmitted through, the languages of small groups in increasingly threatened physical environments. This gives a clear and widely accepted reason for approaching the study of ethnobiology with the techniques of documentary linguistics. For example, in Kámnzo the plant name kʷatsʏr kʷatsʏr (Helminthostachis zeylanica) is the reduplicated form of a kind of fish. Informants described that when the flower of this plant falls into the water, this would indicate that the fish would eat the those flowers, and that this is the time when the kʷatsʏr fish becomes 'nice and greasy'. This particular reduplication pattern thus captures an important part of ethnoecological knowledge in its semantics. But there is another lesser-known aspect to the symbiosis of language documentation and ethnobiological research. The biological domain of vocabulary may exhibit revealing and unusual characteristics absent or rare elsewhere in the language. In the present talk, we focus on three of these, as they have emerged from our developing study of two languages of Southern New Guinea, Nen and Kámnzo, as well as the neighbours with which they are in contact. The characteristics we will investigate lie at the intersection of encyclopaedic knowledge, intergroup transmission of terminology, social processes (at various levels of conscious articulation) for assimilating or camouflaging the origins of loan terms, the use of botanical and ornithological knowledge as symbols for group identity, and individual sociophonetic positioning. Specifically, we will examine: (a) levels of reduplication, which particularly for plant names but also for bird names reach levels several times higher than for any other semantic domain (b) patterns of unusual phonology suggestive of loan status for some biological terms, such as a number of Kámnzo plant names which begin with vowels, in defiance of the language’s general phonotactic norms. Examples are ætraɸ (gonocaryum littoralis), æw (ficus crysantha), æðəŋgam (parinari nonda) and akeake (alphitonia incana) (c) degrees of etymologisability for reduplicates, and the relevance of this for models of group adaptation to local ecology. In Nen for example only a small proportion of reduplicated plant terms have language-internal etymologies: cf téqli ‘tree frog (sticks to high surfaces), téqlitéqli ‘epiphyte sp.’ (anthorrhyza sp.) (which adheres to points high up on the host tree). But many more have etymologies which must be sought in neighbouring languages – cf Nen qaklqakl ‘scrophularia sp.’, for which there is no unreduplicated counterpart *qakl, while in neighbouring Idi the resemblant word kwakəλkwakəλ (also scrophularia tree) has the unreduplicated counterpart kwakəλ ‘small orange crab which comes out from the banks of streams in the savannah’, and which hides at the base of the kwakəλkwakəλ tree. Cases like these can be used (as per Nash 1997) to argue for particular directions of borrowing (here, from Idi to Nen, with phonological adaptation in Nen but also a lack of the etymological transparency still found in Idi). (d) the degree to which different speakers deal with the phonologies of plant terms (some clearly indigenous, some clearly from neighbouring languages, some partially assimilated). Here we will focus on a subcorpus of over 150 plant names recorded from 4 speakers (all knowing at least Nen and Idi) of different identity-orientations following from their clan affiliation, father and mother’s languages, and life history of residency. Gathering data like this involves the closely-linked investigation of ethnobiological and sociolinguistic issues. In our talk we will set off the analytic issues outlined above with a discussion of how fieldwork practice in an interdisciplinary team can be harnessed to tackle these tasks together. Keywords: Reduplication; Birds; Plants: Mammals
Careful phonetic elicitation of minimal pair word list compiled by Nick (list is archived along in the form of written notes in margins of typed field notesas a .pdf). Three simultaneous tracks were collected using the Zoom H4n. The Zoom tracks focus on Dibod, Goi and Jimmy. The lapel mic is worn by Mango. The head-mounted is worn by Idaba. Photos are included to show the recording set up. Keywords: Elicitation; Phonetics
Paper presented at "The Social Side of Speech" A 1-day conference focusing on leading-edge international and national research in experimental sociophonetics. This research topic addresses empirical studies of how people speak the same language, yet do so differently depending on their social and geographical origins. Those speech differences are, in turn, demonstrably apparent to native listeners of the language. Co-sponsored by Marcs Institute and School of Humanities and Communication Arts In this talk we report some initial findings from an early-stage sociophonetic study of a multilingual village setting in Southern New Guinea, focusing on individuals positioning themselves with respect to three languages – Nambu, Nen and Idi (roughly related as Portuguese, Spanish and Basque). The intersection of clan exogamy, sister-exchange, virilocal marriage, and the normative alignment of clan populations with small single-language villages means that most individuals in the village of Bimadbn grow up with Nen-speaking fathers, and mothers speaking either Nambu or Idi, while most mothers have married into the village and learned Nen in adulthood. Conversely, women who have learned Nen as a mother-tongue are mostly found in neighbouring villages into which they have married. A minority pattern, found when men cannot furnish a sister as an ‘exchange partner’ for their wife and can only marry on condition of residing uxorilocally. The effect of these marriage rules is to create a balanced natural experiment on the interaction of mother-tongue(s), long-term residence, and gender, and we will survey initial data illustrating the way these social affiliation and exposure factors are played out with regard to some interesting aspects of Nen consonant and vowel phonology. Keywords: Phonetics; Variation: Multilingualism