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Atelier Doculang Linguistique de terrain et documentation
Dagmar Jung (Université Zurich)
The Dene Sųlıné language acquisition study (DESLAS) started in 2015 in Northern Saskatchewan (Canada) to document children’s language learning (between 2 and 4 years of age). It is part of ACQDIV, a larger comparative language acquisition project studying typologically diverse languages at the University of Zurich (Moran et al. 2016). The data of the Dene longitudinal study consist of regular naturalistic video recordings at home, done by parents or grandparents. The study was planned for four children to be recorded for one year, and had to be adjusted several times during the project period so far.
On-going collaborative work with the communities of Clearwater River Dene Nation and La Loche has been essential for the organization and implementation of the Dene language project. These communities in Northern Saskatchewan are the last Dene communities with generational transmission of Dene as a mother tongue at home, and there is raised community consciousness about the threat of language loss (Jung et al. 2018).
The corpus consists of ca. 600 hours in 680 sessions, with the aim of transcribing, translating and glossing a representative sample of 60 hours. The data are represented in ELAN and processed in Toolbox before becoming part in the larger comparative ACQDIV-database.
This talk presents the set-up, challenges and work-in progress with this undocumented Dene dialect that has few written resources as well as strong variation due to a very pronounced generational language change. The distinct varieties require linguistic sophistication from the many local Dene transcribers in addition to the questions of how to present and analyze child utterances.