Sounding out ideas on language, vivid sensory words, and iconicity

Category: Fieldwork

  • Finalist in the AAA Photo contest

    The results of the AAA photo contest have just been announced. Congratulations to the winner, Peter Biella! Of my four submissions, one made it to the finals (best 20) and one to the semifinals (best 54). All 294 submissions will appear in the AAA Flickr gallery in due course; mine follow below. My finalist was […]

  • Phonology Assistant

    Phonology Assistant (PA) is a free phonology tool by SIL that (as of version 3.0) works interactively with the data stored in Toolbox, Fieldworks Language Explorer, and Speech Analyzer. It automates many of the cumbersome and repetitive tasks associated with doing phonological analysis, and it does so in a most systematic and revealing way. The […]

  • Semantic cookies

    Semantic cookies are sold in Akpafu-Mempeasem, central Volta Region, Ghana (among other places) Fieldwork sessions on lexical semantics have become a lot easier since I found these cookies. I came across them in a small and dusty store in Akpafu-Mempeasem, my fieldwork hometown of all places. Semantic cookies are made in Turkey by a company […]

  • Kanananana

    There are several ideophones in Siwu that have to do with silence. Here are a few examples: mì-lo kanananana! 2PL-be.silent IDPH (y’all) be silent kanananana! a-rɛ kpooo-o? 2SG-sleep IDPH-Q did you have a sound sleep? lò-to lò-karɛ ɔ itɔ̃me a-ɣɛ à-to à-nyɔ mɛ gbigbini-gbi 1SG-PROG 1SG-ask 2SG:O message 2SG-stand 2SG-PROG 2SG-look 1SG:O IDPH-REDUP1 I’m asking […]

  • The Hidbap language of PNG

    Mt. Iso in PNG, 12 miles southwest of Sumo, east of the Catalina River. Diuwe is spoken between sea level and the first isoline at 100m, Hidbap between the first and the second isolines. This week, the language of the week at Anggarrgoon is DIY, also known as Diuwe. Claire Bowern, noting that the only […]

  • Fieldwork snippet: What ideophones do

    A while ago I spent some time with a language assistant to work through a list of the Siwu ideophones I collected so far. There were some interesting metalinguistic comments on the function of ideophones. Here are three representative exchanges.

  • Fieldwork snippet: What is the difference between these words?

    Hello from the field! I’m currently on a five-week trip to Kawu in the beautiful Volta Region, eastern Ghana (see the picture to the right), hence the irregular posting schedule. In line with my main business here, I will share some notes on doing fieldwork. MD What about gligli? SA Gligli is ‘round’ MD But […]

  • ‘Remnants of some ancient tribal idiom’: deciphering the oldest Siwu to appear in print

    Having been a small and quite isolated language for centuries, Siwu was relatively late to attract attention from outsiders. Europeans in search for gold to buy and people to enslave for the most part stayed near the coast. Halfway the nineteenth century, German firms (looking for cheap land) and missionary organizations (looking for converts) started […]