Fieldwork today

Neal Oliver n.oliver at
Wed Feb 5 08:47:57 UTC 1997

"Mark P. Line" <mline at> said:


>Maybe what we need is a completely secular organization, perhaps set up
>along similar lines as SIL, to put professionals and well-trained amateurs
>into the field for short-term or long-term duty. Or is it only fervent
>Christians with a missionary agenda who are motivated to live in the
>jungle on native food, enjoy the rewards of linguistic fieldwork, and earn
>peanuts (or mongongo nuts, as the case may be)?

This is such a fine idea that it rousted me out of my lurkerdom on this
mailing list. Enthusiasm for saving, or at least documenting, endangered
languages is more widespread than you would think - both for altruistic
reasons and for the intrinsic pleasure that the work brings.

To add my bit to this thread on fieldwork-as-a-vocation/vacation: field work
is not the only linguistics subfield in which real world concerns intrude.
For example, my training is in computational linguistics, with interests in
language acquisition and information extraction; I have ended up working
(for now) as a systems architect in the telecommunications industry. Those
linguists who have the degree of commitment to go into field work _anyway_
have my sincere admiration, as their situation is certainly more difficult
than is mine.
Neal Oliver
Senior Systems Architect
Dialogic Corporation
1515 Route 10
Parsippany, NJ 07054, USA
VOICE:    +1.201.993.3000 x6875
FAX:      +1.201.993.3093
Internet: n.oliver at

Endangered-Languages-L Forum: endangered-languages-l at
Web pages
Subscribe/unsubscribe and other commands: majordomo at

More information about the Endangered-languages-l mailing list