Multilingual elicitation in a multilingual fieldwork setting


  • Anne Mucha Universität Potsdam



In semantic fieldwork, it is common to use a language other than the language under inves- tigation for presenting linguistic materials to the language consultants, e.g. discourse contexts in ac- ceptability judgment tasks. Previous works commenting on the use of a ‘meta-language’ or ‘language of wider communication’ in this sense (AnderBois and Henderson 2015; Matthewson 2004) have ar- gued that this practice is not methodologically inferior to the exclusive use of the object language for elicitation, but that the fieldworker needs to be alert to potential influences of the meta-language or, indeed, the object language, on the elicited judgments. Thus, the choice of a language for present- ing discourse contexts is an integral component of fieldwork methodology. This paper provides a research report with a focus on this component. It describes a multilingual fieldwork setting offering several potential meta-languages, which the fieldworker and the consultants master to varying de- grees. The choice of the languages in this setting is discussed with regard to methodological, social and practical considerations and related to selected, more general methodological questions regarding semantic fieldwork practice.