[lg policy] dissertation: Grammaticographie des langues minoritaires: le cas de l'innu

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jun 4 14:30:19 UTC 2011

Grammaticographie des langues minoritaires: le cas de l'innu

Institution: Université Laval
Program: Department of Languages, Linguistics, and Translation
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2011

Author: Anne-Marie Baraby

Dissertation Title: Grammaticographie des langues minoritaires: le cas de l'innu

Linguistic Field(s): Language Documentation

Subject Language(s): Montagnais (moe)

Language Family(ies): Algonquian

Dissertation Director(s):
Jean Dolbec

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation, a study of how reference grammars can be developed for
speakers of minority languages, contributes to the newly emerging field of
grammaticography, the science devoted to the grammatical description of
languages, particularly those which are poorly documented and endangered. The
present study addresses fundamental theoretical, methodological and practical
concerns in grammaticography, taking as an example key issues arising in the
development of a grammar for native speakers of Innu, an Amerindian language
spoken in Quebec. Starting from an analysis of problems encountered in the
course of documenting the grammar of Innu, this dissertation explores how
grammaticography can best respond to the specific and very urgent needs of
speakers of endangered and poorly documented languages.

The study opens with an analysis of the concept of reference grammar. It then
considers how potential users of reference grammars can be identified in
minority language contexts and how grammars can be structured in order to meet
the needs of users who are native speakers of the language without being
language specialists. The study next addresses the problem of content,
considering both what to include and how to include it. In this section
particular attention is paid to making metalinguistic and terminological
choices, establishing grammatical norms and handling regional variations,
deciding on the depth and breadth of grammatical description to include,
selecting grammatical points to include, organizing the selected content
optimally, choosing and integrating illustrative examples, and including key
non-linguistic information. Next follows a discussion of the various solutions
arrived at in the cause of writing a reference grammar for the Innu language.
Among these figure the use of a multilevel approach designed to address the
needs of a varied reading public, the selection of teachers as the target
audience, the organization of content according to a hybrid structural-function
approach, and the decision to write the grammar in a majority language. Although
the challenges posed by the creation of minority language reference grammars
vary substantially from one context to the next, it is hoped that many of the
basic grammaticographic principles developed within the framework of this study
will prove useful to others engaged in reference grammar writing in the case of
endangered and poorly documented languages.


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