The quest for meaning in language documentation. Felix Ameka. Quest for meaning. The essence of linguistics is the quest for meaning (Whorf 1956)
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Translations and glosses are equated with meaning
The contributions of other elements in the context such as the semantics of grammatical constructions are not taken into consideration
On-line interpretations in context are taken to be senses
For any fieldwork situation, there is a fundamental problem in getting at the meaning of utterances or lexical items in a language …
Approaches to lexical semantics e.g. in dictionary work often rely on denotational overlap with English words (or any other language into which terms are translated) to establish the meanings of lexemes.
Minimally in linguistic documentation, one should provide translations of words and sentences of the language being documented into a language of wider communication backed up by definitions of individual words and morphemes in some sort of bilingual dictionary. In the West African multilingual context, we should not shy away from providing glosses in local lingua franca as well as the official languages of English and French.
Ask in the language for the consultant to explain a term or describe the object a word stands for to a child, giving as much information as possible
Eg. A fish name or term
SIZE, COLOUR, TEXTURE,