Semantic fieldwork from a distance with speakers of Akuzipik


  • Sylvia L.R. Schreiner George Mason University
  • Benjamin Hunt George Mason University
  • Emily Chen University of Illinois
  • Preston Haas
  • Ukaall Crystal Aningayou St. Lawrence Island Yupik


fieldwork from a distance, digital fieldwork, asynchronous fieldwork, Akuzipik, Yupik


In this paper we describe semantic fieldwork undertaken from a distance with speakers of Akuzipik (also known as (Siberian) Yupik), an endangered Alaska Native language. We present our experiences in working both synchronously and asynchronously on temporal reference, quantifi- cation, lexical semantics of derivational morphology, and antipassives with speakers via Facebook Messenger, text message, email, mail, and telephone. We detail a number of logistical, method- ological, and interpersonal challenges and benefits to conducting semantic fieldwork via these means both during the global pandemic and before/after. While fieldworkers have found the situation more challenging than in-person fieldwork in many ways, scheduling time with speakers is easier, and some speakers favor the extra time afforded them to think about their answers. Relationships among fieldworkers and speakers have benefitted from more extended interactions than are possible during in-person trips, and fieldworkers have been able to engage with speakers who had been unavailable during in-person visits.

Author Biographies

Sylvia L.R. Schreiner, George Mason University

Assistant Professor, Linguistics Program, Department of English

Benjamin Hunt, George Mason University

PhD Student, Linguistics Program, Department of English

Emily Chen, University of Illinois

PhD Student, Department of Linguistics