The Embroidered Wug

A blog about the beauty of language... and grad school. What's a wug? Look here.
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#fieldwork posts


Graduate school in the time of COVID-19: Rethinking my dissertation

There are many things to write about COVID-19 and how it’s impacting graduate students right now. It’s overwhelming. I struggle to find words. The words I’ve found are about research travel, so that’s what I’m writing about now.

The Endangered Language Documentation Programme (ELDP), one of the major funding agencies of linguistic fieldwork, announced on March 20 that they will not be reviewing applications submitted during the 2020 cycle:

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Metadata: Hundreds of recordings, but what are they about?

At the end of each day of fieldwork, I sit down and “deal with my data”. No matter how tired I am, no matter how much I want to put it off, it’s an essential part of my daily routine. The first thing I do is back up my recordings. And while my files are transferring, I go over my notes and make sure that all of my metadata is in order. Metadata is all the information about how the recording was made — who was there, where we were, what we talked about, what audio recorder I used, etc. Metadata is data about data, and it’s a crucial aspect of good data management.

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What does a linguist do (in Oaxaca)?

Today I'm in Oaxaca City, Mexico. Tomorrow I head to San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya, about 20 km east of the city, where I'll spend the next month learning about Tlacochahuaya Zapotec. Since I'm here, I thought I'd answer the question posed to me by every rideshare driver: "You're a linguist? But, um, what do you do?"

When linguists study language, they're seeking to understand (a) what constraints there are on how languages work, and (b) how any particular language fits into those constraints.

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