This week the Language Variation & Change workshop is pleased to host Jack Martin from the College of William and Mary. He specializes in the documentation of numerous native languages of the American south. You can learn more about his work here.
His talk will take place on Friday, February 23rd at 3:30 pm in RO 301. (See below for details.)
I hope you can make it, especially if you have any interest in fieldwork or documentation!
“Oral History as a Tool in Studying Language Change: The Muskogee (Creek)/Seminole Project”
Jack B. Martin (College of William and Mary)
Collaboration between linguists and endangered language communities often requires a delicate balance between projects that the community wants and research that linguists want to conduct. Dictionaries are one promising area where linguistic research is seen as having a beneficial impact on the community. This paper reports on another type of project: an oral history project requested by the Seminole Nation that informs us of ongoing variation and change in language (see http://muskogee.blogs.wm.edu/interviews/).
The first part of this paper discusses the mechanics of our oral history project: working with the Seminole Nation and listening to their needs, obtaining funding, scheduling interviews, transcribing and translating files, and file management. The second part of the paper discusses some of the discoveries we are finding about modern spoken Muskogee (and language obsolescence): a) the emergence of a new conjunction ton; b) the surprisingly widespread use of what Haas called “women’s speech”; c) apparent decline in control of numbers; d) use of English hesitation words; and, e) previously undescribed contractions. We will also discuss the ways that oral history projects can be used in linguistics and other fields.