The next Fieldwork Lab Meeting will be on November 5th, 2020, this week exceptionally at 2:30pm. (Contact Carol-Rose Little if you would like to join.)

Dorothea Hoffmann will present a talk entitled “Event- and team-based fieldwork with a non-profit in comparison to the “lone-wolf” approach: A personal account”.

This paper compares “traditional” academic fieldwork in Australia as a “lone-wolf” linguist with the event- and team-based approach developed by the non-profit organization The Language Conservancy (TLC) in the US and Canada. After briefly describing my fieldwork methods and experiences working in the Northern Territory of Australia with the Malak Malak, I will shift focus to my work on North American languages such as Acoma Keres, Ute Mountain Ute, Ho-Chunk, and Stoney Nakoda. I will place particular emphasis on describing a modification of the Rapid Word Collection method (RWC), which was originally developed by SIL International (2010) in order to create practical dictionaries in a relatively short period of time. TLC adapted the semantic domain associations of the RWC method to the North American endangered language situation where both literacy levels and number of speakers are generally low. As a result, TLC developed a specialized software tool to collect both written and audio recordings for each entry in the semantic domain database in a two-week workshop setting.

After a workshop is completed, all collected data is consolidated into a digital spreadsheet and checked to ensure standardized spelling, accurate transcription, and grammatical consistency by a team of experienced linguists. The data is being flagged and organized so that it can be reviewed and re-recorded by fluent speakers in subsequent weeklong workshops. These workshops become true community events bringing Elders and speakers together in an effort to document an endangered language for the purposes of language revitalization. Additionally, the speed and efficiency of the process ensures that high-quality language materials can be delivered into the hands of the community in a relatively short period of time.

SIL International. (2010). Retrieved 2020, from
Warfel, Kevin. (2016). Dictionary Production: Rapid Word Collection Method. [Brochure]. SIL International. Retrieved 2020, from word-collection-flyer

Dorothea Hoffmann holds a BA/MA in German and English linguistics and literary studies from the University of Konstanz, Germany and a PhD in linguistics from the University of Manchester, UK entitled “Descriptions of Motion and Travel in Jaminjung and Kriol”. She spent 5 years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago working on the Australian languages Malak Malak and Matngele. She started working for the non-profit organization The Language Conservancy in 2017 and is now Linguistic Project Manager. She has researched various Australian and North American Indigenous languages  and is enthusiastic about language documentation and revitalization.