How many hours of recorded speech?

Julia Sallabank js72 at SOAS.AC.UK
Tue Aug 28 09:50:45 UTC 2012


Dear Lindsay

I agree with what has been said before, but would stress the importance of
quality as well as quantity. Not only in terms of the quality of the
recordings - which it goes without saying is essential to capture nuances
of vowel quality, tone etc. (see
http://www.hrelp.org/events/workshops/audio2011/assets/sound-unsound.pdf).
General
guidance on best practices in language documentation can be found at
http://emeld.org/school/index.html.

It is also of course essential to archive the recordings, metadata and
analyses in a safe and accessible archive which is regularly backed up and
updated (e.g. ELAR, DoBeS).

As well as this I would recommend thinking about the (potential) purposes
of the recordings and what kind of language would be useful for them. I
would urge you to think of future uses that community members and
their descendants might like in terms of language revitalisation/revival,
perhaps even 200 years after the last speakers, as is happening in
Australia.  As noted by Sugita (2007,
http://www.hrelp.org/publications/ldlt/papers/ldlt_28.pdf) and Amery (2009,
http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/handle/10125/4436/amery.pdf?sequence=1),
language
documentation often omits the kinds of genres that would be most useful for
language revitalisation/revival, e.g. conversational gambits, childcare
language, jokes, insults, swear-words etc.

I agree with Graziano that elicitation can help help to fill gaps, but
beware that if the speakers are undergoing attrition or there is a
diglossic situation, elicitation and grammaticality judgements may elicit
incorrect data due to perceptions of 'correctness'.

I hope this is helpful

Julia

On 28 August 2012 08:32, Graziano Sava' <grsava at gmail.com> wrote:

> Dear Lindsay,
>
> I totally agree with Seffen's comment. I would add that language
> documentation and description is not only data collection but also data
> analysis in the field. One should take time to sit with language
> consultants to understand meanings and structures of the language. The more
> you collect and the more you understand, analyse and describe, the more you
> realise what are the areas of the grammar that are unclear. In order to
> fill analytical gaps you could record texts of specific genres and topics.
> For example recipes for the imperative or idea's on one's future life for
> the expression of future or modal forms. To make sure you get what you need
> you might use basic elicitation, creating specific example sentences to be
> verified in the texts and that verify the texts.
>
> Hope this helps.
>
> All the best and good luck,
>
> Graziano
>
>
> 2012/8/27 Steffen Haurholm-Larsen <shaurholml at gmail.com>
>
>> Dear Lindsay,
>>
>> You are raising a question that is relevant for most all linguists
>> working with endangered languages, no matter wether they consider
>> themselves "documentary linguists" or not. As you are implying, and as is
>> well know to us all, the work that you are doing on this language right now
>> might be the last, and in some cases the only record of the language.
>>
>> Regarding the amount of hours or recordings that is "enough" I think that
>> there is just no way of answering that - the easy answer would be to say
>> "as much as possible" withing the limits of your budget and time frame of
>> the project. However, it will be helpful for you to have a goal to work
>> towards, so, the practical way of going about setting the limit would be to
>> first make a small pilot project where you run the whole process from
>> recording through archiving with all of the steps in between to see how
>> long it takes you to process, say 10 minutes of conversation. This will
>> give you some kind of hint as to how long you may expect things to take and
>> thereby how much you can afford to document. But you don't want to limit
>> your recordings to what you will be able to transcribe - perhaps the bulk
>> of your record will just be provided with a "rough transcription" that will
>> tell the user what is going on in it. So, record as much as you can and
>> then select the stuff you find the most interesting to transcribe; another
>> bonus of this approach is that you will likely have different genres to
>> choose from when you decide what to transcribe and gloss in detail.
>>
>> In terms of choosing speech genres I think you should go out into the
>> community and find out how people interact; in other words, let the speech
>> genres show themselves - this is of course easier said than done, but on
>> the other hand, you (or somebody) will have to be present in order to
>> record the speech event anyway. This brings me to my final point - it might
>> be worth considering providing a number of speakers with solid state
>> recorders and have them record to whatever extent they and their fellow
>> community members feel comfortable. This will eliminate, to whatever extent
>> possible, the influence of you as outsiders on the record. This of course
>> has its drawbacks because you loose control almost completely of the
>> recording process and equipment placement, but if you have funds for it and
>> if speakers like the idea, it certainly couldn't hurt.
>>
>> Good luck with your project and enjoy your fieldwork experience!
>>
>> Steffen Haurholm-Larsen
>> Phd. student - University of Zurich
>>
>> On Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 9:39 PM, Lindsay Marean <lmarean at bensay.org>wrote:
>>
>>> I'm helping to document a language with few first-language speakers
>>> living.  We want to record them speaking naturally (and transcribe and
>>> translate the recordings), and we hope to use this documentation as the
>>> basis for more language description in the future.
>>>
>>> I'm looking for people's opinions, experiences, and citations - how many
>>> hours of recorded speech are minimally "enough" to most likely represent
>>> the grammar of the language?  Are there particular discourse types that we
>>> should be certain to record, besides narratives and conversations?
>>>
>>> Best regards,
>>> Lindsay
>>>
>>
>>
>
>
> --
> Graziano SavĂ  - PhD Leiden (African Languages and Linguistics)
>
> Postdoc DoBeS-Volkswagenstiftung
> http://www.volkswagenstiftung.de/index.php?id=172&L=1
> Based at LLACAN-CNRS
> http://llacan.vjf.cnrs.fr/
>
> Personal links
> www.grazianosava.altervista.org
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dy8kfVR0rGo
> http://uni-hamburg.academia.edu/GrazianoSav%C3%A0
> http://it-it.facebook.com/graziano.sava
>
> Blog
> endangeredlanguagesblog.blogspot.com
> <http://endangeredlanguagesblog.blogspot.com/?spref=fb>
>
>
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