Faculty members Bradley McDonnell, Andrea Berez-Kroeker, and Gary Holton publish an edited Special Publication for the journal Language Documentation & Conservation entitled, Reflections on Language Documentation 20 Years after Himmelmann 1998.
This volume reflects on key issues in the field of language documentation on the 20 year anniversary of Nikolaus Himmelmann’s seminal article “Documentary and descriptive linguistics” in the journal Linguistics. Himmelmann’s central argument that language documentation should “be conceived of as a fairly independent field of linguistic inquiry and practice” has prompted major theoretical and practical shifts, helping to establish documentary linguistics as a genuine subfield of linguistics. Now 20 years later we are able ask: how has this new field evolved?
In order to address this question, we invited 38 experts from around the world to reflect on either particular issues within the realm of language documentation or particular regions where language documentation projects are being carried out. The issues discussed in this volume represent a broad and diverse range of topics from multiple perspectives and for multiple purposes. Some topics have been hotly debated over the past two decades, while others have emerged more recently. Many contributors also speculate on what comes next, looking at the future of documentary linguistics from a variety of perspectives. Hence, the 31 vignettes provide not only reflections on where we have been but also a glimpse of where the field might be headed.