R.M.W. Dixon's Acceptance speech for 2006 Leonard Bloomfield award
A.Aikhenvald at LATROBE.EDU.AU
Thu Mar 30 06:54:59 UTC 2006
As you no doubt know, the 2006 Leonard Bloomfield award for the best book in linguistics over the period of two years was bestowed upon R.M.W. Dixon, for his grammar 'The Jarawara language of southern Amazonia, Oxford: Oxford University Press' (2004).
His acceptance speech was delivered at the LSA Meeting in Albuquerque on 6 January 2006.
He has now asked me to post this text on the List, so as to acquaint colleagues with its contents.
If you wish to get in touch with R.M.W. Dixon, you can do so by snail-mail (address: Research Centre for Linguistic Typology; La Trobe University; Victoria 3086; by phone (61-3-9479 6401), or by fax (61-3-9467-3053).
Acceptance speech for 2006 Leonard Bloomfield award
by R M W Dixon, delivered at the LSA Meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico,on6 Jan 2006.
I am humbly grateful to the LSA for choosing my grammar The Jarawara language of southern Amazonia for the 2006 Leonard Bloomfield award. I like to think of this as a mark of recognition for all writers of comprehensive grammars of previously undescribed languages, and for the publishers who have the vision to put them out.
The first Bloomfield award went to Keren Rice's A grammar of Slave, published in the Mouton Grammar Library. The linguistic world owes a debt of gratitude to Mouton de Gruyter for this fine series. And to Cambridge University Press for their high-quality series Cambridge Grammatical Descriptions, which has featured three grammars of the highest quality - Kham by David Watters, Tariana by Alexandra Aikhenvald, and Semelai by Nicole Kruspe. Sadly, Cambridge have decided not to persevere with this series; but they are soon to re-issue Aikhenvald's A grammar of Tariana in a cheaper paperback format.
We are fortunate that Oxford University Press have now entered the arena. They did, of course require a subsidy to publish my Jarawara grammar (this was generously provided by the Publications Fund of La Trobe University). The skill that linguistics publisher John Davey and his colleagues at OUP devoted to the project has led to a volume that is a real pleasure to hold and to use.
A word addressed to junior colleagues who think that it will improve their work to immerse it in the latest electronic technology. Don't. Because it won't. I worked on the Jarawara grammar as I did on previous grammars of Dyirbal, of Yidiñ, of Boumaa Fijian (and of English). I used pencil, pen and spiral-bound notebooks, plus a couple of good-quality tape recorders. No video camera (to have employed one would have compromised my role in the community). No lap-top. No shoebox or anything of that nature. And no also grammatical elicitation from the lingua franca.
Work centred on the recording and analysis of texts, and on studying language use in an immersion fieldwork situation. Every ounce of my time and energy and brain-power went into writing down, and copying out, and learning, and analysing the language, within the long-established framework of basic linguistic theory (in terms of which almost all grammar have been written).
I thank SIL linguist Alan Vogel for sharing with me field site, data and insights. The most heartfelt thanks of all go to those members of the 150-strong Jarawara community who taught me their wonderful language - chief amongst them Okomobi, Mioto, Soki and Kamo.
Professor Alexandra Aikhenvald
Associate Director and Postgraduate Coordinator, PhD, DLitt, FAHA
Research Centre for Linguistic Typology
La Trobe University
Tel: 61-(0)3-9479 6402
Fax: 61-(0)3-9467 3053
More information about the Lingtyp