Language documentation and description
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LANGUAGE DOCUMENTATION and DESCRIPTION. Bahar Kocaman , Sezer Yurt, Gülden Berber. By documenting languages we engage in amassing data for preservation . This will allow future generations to access data for languages even after they are gone .

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LANGUAGE DOCUMENTATION and DESCRIPTION

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Language documentation and description

LANGUAGE DOCUMENTATION and DESCRIPTION

BaharKocaman, Sezer Yurt, Gülden Berber


Language documentation and description

  • Bydocumentinglanguagesweengage in amassing

    data forpreservation.

  • Thiswillallowfuturegenerationstoaccess data for

    languagesevenaftertheyaregone.

  • Describinglanguagesprovidesinformationabout

    them,

  • and has theextendedeffectthatthemereexistence of

    thedescriptionsmay be empoweringforendangered

    languages.


Fieldwork

Fieldwork


Language documentation and description

  • Fieldworkis theprocedure of acquiringlinguistic

    data fromlanguageconsultants, preferably in

    environmentsfamiliartothem, such as theirhomesor

    workplaces.

  • Prototypicalfieldwork(Hyman, 2001): A linguist

    spending an extendedamount of time with a

    community in an exoticplace, documentingand

    recording a littleknownlanguage of a community

    withthehelp of localinformants.


Language documentation and description

  • ‘describestheactivity of a researcher

    systematicallyanalysingparts of a language,

    usuallyotherthanone’snativelanguageand

    usuallywithin a community of speakers of that

    language’ (Sakel & Everett, 2012:5).


Language documentation and description

  • Whenplanningforfieldwork, thelinguistwill

    havetoconsider

  • what he wishestoinvestigate,

  • how he will be acceptedintothecommunity,

  • how he willworkwiththeconsultants,

  • how he willgoaboutgathering data,

  • how tomakethat data as reliableand

    comprehensive as possible, andso on.


Language documentation

Language Documentation


Language documentation and description

  • Language documentation is thecollection of

    raw data thatmaythen be usedforfurther

    analysis.

  • Themerits of languagedocumentation is to

    givelinguistsraw data toworkwithandto

    preservea culturalheritage of thecommunity.


Language documentation and description

  • Whilelanguagedocumentationmay not slowthe rate

    of languagedeath, it willpreserverecords of the

    languagesforfuturegenerations.

  • An example of a largescalelanguagedocumentation

    program is TheRosetta Project, whereinformation

    forover 1500 languages is currentlystored, much of

    it publiclyavailable.


Language description

Language Description


Language documentation and description

  • Language descriptionseekstoillustratethe

    essentials of a language, based on availablematerial.

    Itprovidesanalyses of a variety of areas of the

    language, such as itsphonological, morphological,

    grammaticalandsyntacticsystems, as well as, ideally

    presenting a lexicon of thelanguage.

  • Ideallythedescription is general enoughto be

    comparablewithotherdescriptions, but specific

    enoughtocapturetheuniqueness of thelanguage

    (Lehmann, 1999:6).


Language documentation and description

  • Thecombinedeffect of descriptionsand

    documentationsmayleadto a higherrecognition,

    even on a politicallevel, of thelanguage. Reference

    materials, such as educationalmaterial, produced in

    combinationwithdescriptivematerials, mightleadto

    a higherawareness, andmightevenleadtothe

    languagebecomingrecognizedenoughto be taught

    in schools.


Sampling

Sampling


Language documentation and description

  • Typolocigalsurveysaredependent on data fromdifferentlanguages, oftenfrom a largenumber of languages.

  • Toincludeallhumanlanguages in an investigation is simply not possible. Becausewedon’thaveaccesstoallhumanlanguagesandwehavelimitedaccesstothelanguages of theworld.


Language documentation and description

  • Statementsaboutcross-linguistic

    patterns, tendenciesanduniversal

    arealwaysbased on a sample of

    languages.


Types of samples

Types of Samples


Language documentation and description

1.ProbabilitySample: Inordertocheckforstatisticaltendenciesandcorrelations of

variousfeatures, weuseprobabilitysample.

  • Inthissample, wemust set variables

    beforehandandmapthesampleaccording

    to presence orabsence of thosevariables.


Language documentation and description

  • Forexample, we can checkpatternsfor

    reduplicationbychoosing a set of

    variables, such as

  • thelanguagedoesn’thavereduplication

  • thelanguage has partialreduplication

    only


Language documentation and description

  • thelanguage has fullreduplicationonly

  • thelanguage has bothpartialandfull

    reduplication.

    Wethenproceedtocodeeachlanguageof

    thesampleaccordingtothosevariables,

    choosingonlyonevariableperlanguage.


Language documentation and description

2. VarietySample: is ‘mainlyusedfor

explorativeresearch: whenlittle is knownaboutthe form orconstruction

underinvestigation it is importantthat

thesampleoffers a maximumdegree of

thelinguisticparameters [i.e. variables]

involved’ (Rijkhoff & Bakker 1998:265).


Language documentation and description

3. ConvenienceSample: is a sample

based on whatkind of data one has

accessto.


Types of bias

Types of Bias


Language documentation and description

1.BibliographicalBias: Small or

remotelylocatedlanguages, veryoften

isolatesorlanguages of unknown

affiliations, arebiasedtoward

exclusionfromthesamples.


Language documentation and description

  • Forinstance, untilDerbyshire (1977)

    published his description of the

    Hixkaryanawordorder, objectinitial

    languageswere not to be found in any

    surveys on types of wordorder.


Language documentation and description

2. Genetic (Genealogical) Bias: Somelanguage

familiesareoverrepresentedwhileothersare

underrepresented in thesample.

  • Manyfeatures of a languageareinherited. If a sample

    is biasedtowardsonefamilyoverothers, a feature

    mightlookmoreorlesscommonthan it actually is,

    simplybecause of how it appears in thedominating

    family.


Language documentation and description

  • Forexample, toneisn’t a commonfeature in

    Indo-Europeanlanguages, but it is quite

    common in Niger-Congolanguages. If a

    sample has a higherproportion of Indo-

    Europeanlanguagesthanotherfamilies, the

    patternthat is likelytoemerge is thattone

    seemslesscommoncrosslinguisticallythan it

    actually is.


Language documentation and description

3.ArealBias: Languagesfromthesamelinguistic

areaareoverrepresented, whichmayskewthe

resultingpatternonewayoranother.

  • Linguisticareasareareaswherelanguageshave

    been in sustainedcontactandhaveinfluenced

    eachothersothattheyhavespecificfeatures not

    found in thelanguagesoutsidethearea.


Language documentation and description

  • Forexample, thelanguages of the

    Balkan area, whichbelongtodifferent

    genera of Indo-European, have

    postposedarticles as opposedtothe

    neighbouringlanguagesoutsidethe

    linguisticarea, and as opposedto

    otherlanguages of thesamegenera.


Language documentation and description

4. TypologicalBias:One linguistic type is over- or

underrepresented in a sample.

  • Forexample, if we want to check if there is anycorrelation between adposition and verb-object word order, we need to include languages of all types, such as those with prepositions, those with postpositions…

  • If we have an overrepresentation of languages with, for example, prepositions, we are likely to get a skewed pattern.


Language documentation and description

5. CulturalBias: We have an over- orunderrepresentation

of the different culturesof the world in the sample.

  • There is “a relationbetween certain aspects of the grammar of a language on the one hand and beliefsand practices of its speakers on the other hand” (Bakker 2010:108).

  • For example, in astudy on number marking,Lucy (1992) found that speakers of AmericanEnglish andspeakers of Yucatec (Mayan(Mayan): Mexico) treat nouns differently:


Language documentation and description

The Englishspeakers;

  • make a sharp distinction between mass and

    count nouns,

  • have obligatorynumber marking for count

    nouns.

    The Yucatec speakers;

  • treat most nouns asmass nouns,

  • have optional number marking but an

    obligatory numeral classifier system.


Language documentation and description

When asked to sort pictures ofobjects,

  • the English speakers tended to sort

    objects by shape,

  • the Yucatec speakerstended to sort

    objects by material composition.


Language documentation and description

  • The number marking systemderives

    from the cultural outlook( i. e. how one

    viewsand categorizes objects)

    or

  • the cultural interpretation of objects

    derives from the linguisticstructure, is

    probablyimpossible to establish.


Language documentation and description

  • “if languages are closely related

    genetically, they are likely to have

    inherited common linguistic types from

    their ancestor language, to be spoken in

    the same area and by people sharing the

    same culture” (Cristofaro 2005:91).


Language documentation and description

  • Finally, statistics may seem far removed

    from typology, but is actuallypretty

    essential, since what we are dealing with

    is sets of data, samples aimed at

    representingthe whole, anddrawing

    conclusions fromthese sampled data.


Databases

Databases


Language documentation and description

  • Thedatabaseswhichare popular

    recentlyarebeneficialforboth

    compilersandlinguisticcommunity.


Language documentation and description

  • Someadvantages of thesedatabasesare:

  • Theyarebeneficialforresearchmakingscores of

    data accessible.

  • Theyallowcompilersto be recognizedfortheir

    painstakingwork.

  • Thesedatabases can continouslyupdated.


Language documentation and description

  • Howeverthesedatabasesradically

    maydifferfromeachotherbothin

    selectionof languagesand in the

    approachtotheentries.


Language documentation and description

  • Forexample;

  • Therearedatabaseswith a vastamount of languages but

    wherethedata providedforeachlanguage is restricted.

  • Therearedatabasesprovidingveryelaborateinformationfor

    eachlanguage, but thenumber of languages is smaller.

  • Therearedatabaseswhichlookonly at onespecificlanguage

    domain whileotherdatabasescode a host of featuresand

    informationaboutthelanguage.


Language documentation and description

  • Thefollowingonesarethreedifferentkinds of

    databases

  • Word Atlas of Language Structure (WALS).

  • Atlas of PidginandCreolelanguageStructure

    (APiCS).

  • AutomatedSimilarityJudgement Program (ASJP).


Language documentation and description

1. Word Atlas of Language Structure

(WALS)

  • Itis a milestone in terms of large-scale

    databases.


Language documentation and description

  • Somepositivefeatures of WALS

  • Itcompiles a number of databasesintoonesingleunit

    coveringa greatpart of abstractlinguisticsystemincluding

    phonology, morphology, syntax, grammar, andlexical

    features.

  • Italsoprovidesthefirstworldwidecollectedmapping of

    languagesystems.

  • Anotheraspect of WALS is that it includestwochaptersabout

    signlanguages.

  • Eachlinguisticfeature is dealtwithseperately in WALS

  • TheAtlas providesmetadataforeachlanguageincludes

    specificallythelocation of thelanguageanditsgenealogical

    classification.


Language documentation and description

  • Twonegativefeatures of WALS

  • Becauseathourswereresponsibleforindividual

    features, theirchaptersmaycontain a largeamountof

    languagesthoughthesemay not necessarilyoverlap

    withotherchapters.

  • WALS completelyignoredpidgin, creoleandmixed

    languages.


Language documentation and description

2.Atlas of PidginandCreole Language

Structure(APiCS)

  • Incontrastto WALS, it is thefirstlarge-

    scaletypologicalprojectforpidginand

    creolelanguages.


Language documentation and description

  • Somepositiveaspects of APiCS

  • Itbasicallyatractsattention of experts on pidgin, creole,

    andmixedlanguages.

  • Becausethefeaturesarepredefinedandauthorsare

    responsibleforspecificlanguages, thecrosscompatibility

    betweenlanguage is absolute.

  • Thekind of informationthat can be foundforone

    language can also be foundforeverylanguage in the

    database.

  • Theinstructionsfortheauthorsweretofillout a detailed

    questionnaireof featuresforthelanguage of their

    expertise.

  • Eachlanguage is alsodescribed in a surveychaptercontaining

    a summary of thesociohistorical background and a broad

    structuraloutline of thelanguage.


Language documentation and description

  • Twonegativeaspects of APiCS

  • APiCSincludesonypidgin, creole, andmixed

    languagesthat is selectedlanguagesthatmayormay

    not be of a specifictypologicalsort. So a complete

    crosscomparisonbetweenAPiCSand WALS is not

    possible.

  • Thesample of APiCS is biasedtowardsEnglish

    lexifiedcontactlanguage.


Language documentation and description

3. AutomatedSimilarityJudgement

Program (ASJP)

  • Itaimstoprovidean objectiveclassification of the

    world’slanguagesbymeansof lexicostatistical

    analysis.


Language documentation and description

  • Lexicostatistics is a techniqueusedto

    comparetherates of changeswithin a set

    of words in differentlanguages in order

    totrytoestablish in how far theyare

    relatedandiftheyarewhenthey

    seperatedfromeachother.


Language documentation and description

  • Somepositivesides of ASJP

  • Itcomputerizesthecomparisonbetweensets of

    wordsusing a fixedalgorithm.

  • Thetaskforeachcontributor is toenter a set of 40

    lexicalitemsfor as manylanguages as possible.

  • Somemacro data is includedforeachlanguagesuch

    as genealogicalaffiliation, locationandnumber of

    speakers.

  • Since thedatset is small, it is possibleforcontributors

    tosubmit a largeamount of languages.


Language documentation and description

  • Twonegativesides of ASJP

  • Since wearedealingwith a computerized

    comparison, thewordshaveto be transcribed

    in a machinereadable format.

  • Andsince thetranscription is an

    approximationof theoriginal, it is not possible

    tosimplyconvert it backto a moredetailed

    format in ordertomake it moreaccessibleto

    others.


Methodology of sign languages

METHODOLOGY OF SIGN LANGUAGES


Language documentation and description

  • Themethodology of spoken

    languagesdifferfromthesign

    language’smethodology.


Data collection of signed language

Data Collection of Signed Language


Language documentation and description

  • Themethodsusedfor data collectionin

    spokenandsignedlaguagearealmostthe

    same. Howeverthere is a differencefor

    signedlanguage.


The sampling of signed languages

TheSamplingof SignedLanguages


Language documentation and description

  • Thestatus of information on sign

    languages, typologicalsurveysof

    themarecalled as convenience

    samples.


Documentation and description of signed languages

DocumentationandDescriptionof SignedLanguages


Language documentation and description

  • Thedifferencebetweenspokenand

    signedlanguage in documentation

    anddescription is thatsigned

    languagesarethreedimensionaland

    visual/gesturallanguages but spoken

    languagestwodimensionaland

    audio/oral languages.


Language documentation and description

  • Lastly, thereare a numberof

    endangeredsignlanguagesallover

    theworldforexampleHawaii

    pidginsignlanguageandBenkala

    signlanguagearenearlyextinct

    ones.


Thanks for attention

THANKS FOR ATTENTION…


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