Welcome to the webpage for the course ‘Research Topics’ at the Navajo Language Academy (Diné Bizaad Naalkaah) 2013. We will be updating this course page throughout the workshop.
Part One: Doing Linguistics in Context
- Required: ‘A New Perspective on American Indian Linguistics’. Ken Hale, 1972. From New Perspectives on the Pueblos.
- ‘Someone else’s language: on the role of linguists in language revitalization’. Peggy Speas, 2008. Talk given at Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium.
- ‘Language ownership and language ideologies’. Peggy Speas, to appear. From Negotiating Culture.
- ‘Doing Mayan linguistics in Guatemala.’ Nora England, 1992. Portion of article ‘Endangered Languages’ in Language.
- ‘Integrating documentation and formal teaching of Kari’nja: Documentary materials as pedagogical materials‘. Racquel-María Yamada, 2011. In Language Documentation and Conservation, Vol. 5.
Part Two: Studying Meanings in Context
- Required: ‘On the expression of modality in Navajo’. Maryanne Willie, 1996.
- ‘The Function and Signification of Certain Navajo Particles‘. Robert Young and William Morgan.
- ‘Da: The Navajo distributive plural preverb‘. 2000. Helen Yellowman Yazzie, Regina Yazzie, Roseann Willink, Caroline Bemore, Jefferson Clauschee, Peggy Rafelito.
Class Activity 1: Storyboards
Storyboards that we went over in class:
Class Activity 2: Responses to Willie modals paper
Groups will present sections of ‘On the expression of modality in Navajo’. Directions for presentations:
- Read the whole Willie paper but read your section extra carefully.
- Give several important examples from your section. Be prepared to write it on the board and talk about it briefly.
- How do the examples sound to you? Would you use them to express the meaning given by Willie? Can you think of any other ways in which you might use the construction or constructions discussed by Willie?
Course Project Ideas
These are just ideas – talk to us about other ideas you’re interested in pursuing.
(1) Storyboard projects on meanings in context:
- Idea One: Go through a storyboard we didn’t do in class; fill in the Navajo narration for the storyboard. Discuss three of the slides in detail; what kinds of words came up frequently? Were there any challenging decisions you had to make?
- Idea Two: Make your own storyboard for a grammatical concept you find interesting or difficult to teach in Navajo. Write up some discussion about why you picked this topic (is it hard for students to learn? do you find it difficult to explain?). Some ideas for storyboard topics: plurality and distributivity, particle lá.
Additional resources for this project:
- Totem Field Storyboards (all of the storyboards)
(2) Research paper on individual words and grammar:
- How do you express permission/law modals (‘is allowed to’) and ability modals (‘is able to’) in Navajo? Are these the same words as belief modals (e.g., daats’í, sha’shin)?
- Can you use different verb modes with the particles discussed by Willie? Does the meaning of the sentence change?
(3) Documentation projects on language and culture:
We haven’t talked a lot yet about the interaction of language and culture, but this is another area where there are a lot of possible project topics.
- Idea One: Metaphors in Navajo
Two possible readings for this assignment to give you ideas:
- ‘Walking like a porcupine, talking like a raven’, Olga Lovick (2013). On metaphors in Lower Tanana, an Alaskan Athabaskan language.
- ‘Metaphor, Mythology, and a Navajo Verb’, Margaret C. Field (2009). Explaining the different uses of a single Navajo handling verb stem in terms of culturally relevant metaphors.
- Idea Two: Place names in Navajo
Possible videos and reading for this assignment to give you ideas: Lower Tanana place names, lecture by Jim Kari (2012).
Further resources for after the course is over:
Books and Journals (free)
- ‘Indigenous Language Revitalization: Encouragement, Guidance and Lessons Learned.’
- ‘Revitalizing Indigenous Languages.’
- Language Documentation and Conservation (Journal)
- Workshop on American Indigenous Languages
- International Conference on Language Revitalization and Documentation
- Society for the Study of the Indigenous Languages of the Americas
Funding and Grants:
- ELDP (Endangered Languages Documentation Project) Grants
- Native American Language Preservation and Maintenance
- Berkeley Linguistic Fieldwork Resources (webpage contains many links to grants and funding sources)