A Discourse and Grammar Approach to Interaction in Landscape Ontology Elicitation Sessions in Hawaiʻi/The status of language nests worldwide

Eve Okura, UHM-Linguistics Department
Catherine Lee, UHM-Linguistics Department

UH Mānoa Linguistics Tuesday Seminar on April 11, 2017

“A Discourse and Grammar Approach to Interaction in Landscape Ontology Elicitation Sessions in Hawaiʻi” by Catherine Lee

This talk critically analyses the method of oral freelisting as an elitication strategy for research on emic understandings of the natural world. Data derive from an oral freelisting activity directed at local landscape ontologies in Hawaii, conducted in a mix of English, Pidgin (Hawaiian Creole English), and Hawaiian. This elicitation strategy involves asking a sample of members of a community of practice to list as many items belonging to a category as possible. It is worthwhile to critically examine the local linguistic interactions in such data elicitation sessions. As interest in the documentation of Local Ecological Knowledge increases, researchers should reflexively examine their own role in authorization of knowledge. I combine the Discourse and Grammar approach with Interactional Sociolinguistics to answer the following research question: How do the participants and the researcher (me) in this freelisting activity authorize or illegitimize their own knowledge and their interlocutor’s knowledge? Findings include the use of code-switching, hedging strategies, epistemic verbs, and laughter when they deem authentication strategies to be necessary. The discourse structure of the data, which would not be available in a written freelist, indicates that certain items require authentication in interaction, while others are taken for granted. Although time-consuming to analyze, these oral freelists provide useful data to judge the epistemic force and evidential nature of various shared cultural knowledge.

“The status of language nests worldwide” by Eve Okura

There are approximately 300-350 language nests in the world. These daycares are established as methods to revitalize endangered languages. In this study, 15 interviews were conducted with language nest works, administrators, teachers, and linguists involved in language revitalization. Seven language nests were visited in person. These interviews and visits addressed questions including but not limited to: 
  • What does it take to establish a language nest?
  • What does it take to maintain one?
  • What are some of the differences between language nests that continue and those that collapse within a year or two?   
  • What resources do language nests have?
  • How are they funded?



Tuesday seminars are held in BIOMED T208 at 12:00pm unless otherwise noted.