Mark Donohue mark.donohue at man.ac.uk
Mon Feb 10 21:03:34 UTC 1997

Again I agree with Thomas:

>I would like to support the view
>that the best way to learn a language, both for purposes
>of speaking and doing linguistic analysis, is to live in a
>community where the language is spoken.
THere's no disrespect involved in saying that someone didn't do fieldwork:
if not doing fieldwork was enough to invalidate someone's work, then 90% or
more of modern linguistics would we deemed worthless, and I certainly
wouldn't want to encourage that view. But there is a quantitative and
qualitative difference between fieldwork, and consultant work.

>They would insist "you can't say that."
>However, the constructions in question would come up over and >over again
>in texts.
I've had exactly the same experience: quite a few aspects of Tukang Besi
grammar have been things heard casually in converstaion, or things that
someone said to me as we watched a sunset, or attended a festival. Later,
trying to elicit the paradigm more fully, such constructions ahve been
deemed ungrammatical: yet the same people say them! When confronted with
taped evidence of themselves saying such constructions in texts, they'd try
to change them for me, to show me "how they meant to say it". Knowledge of
a langauge, in its setting, is invaluable. This si not to say that armchair
knowledge of a language's elicited prescriptive grammar is not useful - but
it has limitation, limitations that can only be overcome by real discourse,
a range of text genres, etc etc.

And that's apart form teh mind-expanding experience of living with people
so very different to yourself.....


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