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  1. Abstract Linguists are seldom, if ever, engaged in work aimed at communicating risk to the general public. The COVID-19 global pandemic and its associated infodemic may change this state of affairs, at least for documentary linguists. Documenting languages may bring researchers in direct contact with communities speaking minority or marginalized languages and gain key insights into their communicative ecologies. By being both immersed in local networks and more or less knowledgeable about the community’s communicative habits, documentary linguists appear to be placed in a unique position to contribute to communicating risk in ways that are better tailored to the community and, therefore, potentially quite effective locally. Furthermore, adding work in risk communication to their agenda may also stimulate documentary linguists to find new models for “giving back” to the communities they work with. In order to provide a concrete example of how all this may play out in concrete terms, we illustrate the virALLanguages project.
  2. Purpose: To contribute to the establishment of a novel approach to language documentation that includes bilingual and multilingual speech data. This approach would open this domain of study to work by specialists of bilingualism and multilingualism. Approach: Within language documentation, the approach adopted in this paper exemplifies the “contemporary communicative ecology” mode of documentation. This radically differs from the “ancestral-code” mode of documentation that characterizes most language documentation corpora. Within the context of multilingualism studies, this paper advocates for the inclusion of a strong ethnographic component to research on multilingualism. Data and Analysis: The data presented comes from a context characterized by small-scale multilingualism, and the analyses provided are by and large focused on uncovering aspects of local metapragmatics. Conclusions: Conducting language documentation in contexts of small-scale multilingualism requires that the adequacy of a corpus is assessed with regard to sociolinguistic, rather than only structural linguistic, requirements. The notion of sociolinguistic adequacy is discussed in detail in analytical terms and illustrated through an example taken from ongoing research led by the authors. Originality: To date, there are no existing publications reviewing in the detail provided here how the documentation of multilingual speech in contexts of small-scale multilingualism should be structured.more »The contribution is highly original, in particular, for its theoretical grounding of the proposed approach. Significance/Implications: This article can serve as a reference for those interested in methodological and theoretical concerns relating to the practice of language documentation in contexts of small-scale multilingualism across the world. It may also help clarify ways for sociolinguists to engage more closely with work on language documentation, a domain that has thus far remained primarily informed by structural linguistic approaches.« less
  3. In the wake of widespread and ongoing travel restrictions that began in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many documentary linguists worldwide shifted to remote work methods in order to continue or, in some cases, begin new projects. This pandemic situation has prompted questions about both methodological and ethical considerations in doing remote fieldwork. In this paper, we discuss the pros and cons of working remotely and discuss ways of working remotely based on our experiences working on projects in West Africa, northwest Amazonia, and Indonesia. We argue that elements of remote fieldwork should become a permanent part of linguistic fieldwork, but that such methods need to be considered in the context of decolonizing language documentation and centering the community’s needs and interests.
  5. In the history of language and conflict, experience has shown that when there is multilingualism in very restricted communities like Lower Fungom, the issue of identity comes up as many people are asserting their identity and this has often resulted into conflict. Yet, there seem to be apparent calm in Lower Fungom and therefore the question is how these languages cohabit with the people such that there is relative calm. Hence, we study the households to see the kind of culture the people have and how they practice their multilingualism in such a way that it helps to blend them or separate them. This paper examines the interface on which multilingualism and inter-community relationship is expressed in Lower Fungom such that there is a peaceful cohabitation among the people. A sociolinguistic survey was carried out in four of the thirteen villages of Lower Fungom with an ethnographic interview guide that handled both linguistic and ethnographic information. Data were collected through in-depth interviews from ten households in each of the four chosen communities. The information collected through in-depth interviews was later verified through focus groups discussions where the participants refuted or confirmed what was provided as information during in-depth interviews. Themore »analysis of the data collected is based on the information that was provided by participants during focus group discussions. The data collection and analyses revealed that significant rates of multilingualism in the area are explained socially in terms of blood relations, marriage, in-laws, perceived proximity and similarity, religion, education, individual relations and movements. Also, the data suggests that household multilingualism transmitted from one generation to another has become a culture and is responsible for the peaceful community and inter- community coexistence in the area. The ethnographic approach employed in data collection revealed that there is no identity crisis but there is a new way of negotiating identity which begins from the household where there is tolerance and consensus in the use of different languages. This tolerance and consensus is extended to the entire community and even beyond the community. Furthermore, household and community multilingualism should be a national responsibility for reasons other than those of international politics. This is because language crisis often tend to breed other crisis such as economic, political, and social crises which, in turn, create a dysfunction in the society.« less
  6. Abstract In a globalised sociolinguistics “[d]ifferent types of societies must give rise to different types of sociolinguistic study”, as Dick Smakman and Patrick Heinrich argue in the concluding remarks of their (Smakman, Dick. 2015. The westernising mechanisms in sociolinguistics. In Dick Smakman & Patrick Heinrich (eds.), Globalising sociolinguistics. Challenging and expanding theory , 16–35. London: Routledge) book Globalising sociolinguistics. Challenging and expanding theory . To this end, a basic condition must be met: both target languages and societies must be well known. This is not the case in much of Central and West Africa: with only few exceptions, here local languages and societies are generally under-researched and sociolinguistic studies have focused mainly on urban contexts, in most cases targeting the interaction between local and colonial languages. With regard to individual multilingualism, this urban-centered perspective risks to limit scholarly attention on processes that, while valid in cities, may not apply everywhere. For one thing, there might still be areas where one can find instances of endogenous multilingualism, where speakers’ language repertoires and ideologies are largely localised. The case in point is offered by the sociolinguistic situation found in Lower Fungom, a rural, marginal, and linguistically highly diverse area of North Westmore »Cameroon. The analyses proposed, stemming from a strongly ethnographic approach, lead to reconsider basic notions in mainstream sociolinguistics – such as that of the target of an index – crucially adding spiritual anxieties among the factors conditioning the development of individual multilingual repertoires in local languages.« less