suggestion for discussion

Allan Wechsler awechsle at
Mon Feb 3 17:03:44 UTC 1997

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I love the idea of more anecdotal writing about linguistic fieldwork
experiences.  But I wonder if it is feasible.

Fieldworkers are usually very pressed for time.  As Mark Donahue has
pointed out, their passion for actual linguistic data is not
well-respected in the field, so they must split their time between
fieldwork and cramming whatever theory is trendy this year.  This does
not leave much time for informal writing.

If anyone has ever seen _any_ book of the kind that Nancy Dorian
envisioned, please let me know -- I will move it to the top of my
reading list.  R. M. W. Dixon's _Searching for Australian Languages_
was the closest thing I have seen, but was scant on linguistic detail
-- there was little account of the actual scientific content of the

One possible format would be a copiously annotated edition of the
researcher's field notes, so that the reader can follow along as the
fieldworker learns about the language, forms and discards theories,
makes breakthroughs, is surprised, and so on.

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