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The magic of names: A fieldworker’s perspective
chapterposted on 21.06.2022, 01:13 authored by Alexandra AikhenvaldAlexandra Aikhenvald
[Extract] That firsthand knowledge of diverse languages is the backbone of any respectable linguistic work - and a sine qua non for trying to understand how languages work - has always been obvious for me. And what better way to acquire this knowledge than to do linguistic fieldwork - venturing into a new community, facing an unknown world, embracing difficult living conditions and trying to come to terms with new and unexpected linguistic structures. Working with a minority language, spoken out of the way of what we know as ’civilization’, may be physically taxing - no running water (except in a river or a waterfall), no electricity, plenty of insects and diseases, tiring travel and further challenges. But what you learn is well worth the effort. In many ways minority ’out-of-the way’ languages can be more expressive, more efficient and perhaps overall ’better’ thatn familiar European ones (see Dixon 2016).