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20 Gathering Language Data in Terminal Speech Communities (1986)

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Chapter Summary

The difficulties confronting any linguistic fieldworker are considerable. There are always the problems of choosing an area, locating a useful sample, gaining the cooperation of the speakers, eliciting matter which is both reliable and germane to the investigation, obtaining confirmation of data from others besides the speaker(s) who originally supplied it, and so forth. This chapter draws on the author's own experience in working with terminal speech forms and on the reports of a number of others to offer a partial "geography" of this difficult terrain and some of the methods which have been adopted by fieldworkers in terminal speech communities to circumvent, or at least reduce, the obstacles. One of the serious problems which face students of dying speech forms, typically, is lack of sufficient or accurate information about earlier stages of the same speech form.

Keywords: language data; linguistic fieldworker; terminal speech communities; terminal speech forms



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