Documentation of Baduy

Research assistantship for Documenting the endangered Indonesian language of the Baduy Dalam (NSF-supported project). August 2020 – July 2022.

This project is an international collaboration with researchers at Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia, teaming up to document the language of the Baduy Dalam ‘Inner Baduy,’ a small group of about 1170 living in a remote area on the island of Java in Indonesia. The team will record natural speech (narratives and conversations) and lexical items to produce an audio and video transcribed corpus of Baduy Dalam speech, a dictionary (with special focus on culturally distinctive concepts), and a grammar sketch. Materials are archived at Pacific and Regional Archive for Digital Sources in Endangered Cultures, where they will be accessible to other researchers and the general public. Broader impacts include producing print and video materials for direct use by the Baduy as linguistic and cultural education resources.

Responsibilities include: Archiving, data management, transcription, lexical database design & management.

Digital tools for language revitalization

Ashleigh Surma & Christina L. Truong
Forthcoming May 2023. Chapter in The Languages and Linguistics of Indigenous North America: A Comprehensive Guide, Vol. 1 (The World’s Languages)Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.

In this chapter, we discuss several types of digital tools commonly employed in language revitalization and highlight specific examples of how such tools have been utilized in and adapted to Indigenous North American contexts. We review examples of digital tools for language revitalization in four categories and discuss how each can be leveraged to meet common needs in language revitalization work. These categories are: learning apps, dictionaries and reference materials, geo-mapping and place names, and interactive online spaces, including interactive storytelling and video games/gaming. While these tools are not a panacea for the multifaceted challenges of language revitalization, when employed thoughtfully, digital tools can bring flexibility and dynamism in support of language revitalization.

How does vowel harmony develop? Evidence from Behoa, a language of Indonesia

Christina L. Truong
Presentation at LSA 2020, 2-5 January 2020

This paper presents evidence from Behoa (Austronesian; Indonesia), showing that vowel harmony developed through phonologization of earlier vowel allophony which was enhanced through vowel-to-vowel coarticulation. The steps of development seen suggest that other morphological, lexical, and prosodic factors favored the rise of VH, including the shape and stress patterns of roots and suffixes, and the contrastive load of low vowel phonemes. Cross-linguistic examples of vowel phenomena showing similar steps of development are also discussed. This study represents new descriptive work on VH in a lesser-known language and contributes to the relatively small body of research on the diachrony of VH.
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Functions of western Indonesian “applicative” affixes

Christina L. Truong
Paper presented at Workshop on Austronesian voice and related phenomena, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, 26 November 2019.

In this paper, I investigate the extent to which western Indonesian verbal suffixes involved in applicative constructions also perform non-applicative and non-valency increasing functions. I survey forms and functions of applicative morphology in a sample of western Indonesian languages of different types of voice systems, including Karo Batak, Sundanese, Pendau, Balantak, Tukang Besi.

A number of observations emerge from the study. First, the properties of a base are not sufficient to predict which which affix it will combine with, nor what the resultant meaning will be. Thus the constructions are not purely compositional. Second, the function of these affixes cannot be equated with bringing a participant from the periphery of a clause into the core in many cases. In some applicative constructions, the applied object is not a participant in the event, e.g. purpose applied objects. In other cases, no applied object with a peripheral role is present, as in many non-valency-increasing constructions. Furthermore, for many derived verbs, there is no base clause to speak of, and thus no peripheral roles can be identified. A satisfactory analysis of the so-called “applicative affixes” must take into account their non-applicative functions.
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Language documentation with the Semai community

Bilinski Educational Foundation Grant. Summer 2019.

Semai is an indigenous language of Pennisular Malaysia which remains underdocumented and underdescribed despite its relatively large number of speakers. Alongside community members, recordings of vowel contrasts, wordlists, personal and traditional narratives, and elicitation with and without stimuli were produced. Materials to be archived in Kaipuleohone Language Archive.

Sundanese benefactives

Christina L. Truong
Working paper based on original data, May 2019

The Sundanese verbal system includes a substitutive benefactive construction which indicates that the agent performs the action on behalf of, and instead of, a beneficiary. This construction is formed with the prefix pang– and the causative/applicative suffix –keun. In this paper I describe the morphosyntax of this construction, including the morphological components found on the verb, the morphophonemic processes involved, and the syntactic properties of various types of clauses with substitutive benefactive meanings. Finally, I compare Sundanese substitutive benefactives with other Western Austronesian benefactive constructions and discuss their historical origin.

Based on the study, the Sundanese pang– prefix appears be derived from the agentive nominalizer *paŋ, which when used in applicatives came to have the meaning ‘to serve as an agent of an action for s.o.’ Sundanese substitutive benefactive verbs can be transitive or ditransitive, and ditransitive argument structure appears to be fully grammatical in both active and passive voice. However, Sundanese also has ditransitive instrumental and simple benefactive applicatives, but I present some evidence that these are not fully grammatical in active voice. The association between passive voice and such three-place verbal constructions might be linked to the four-way voice system of Proto-Austronesian, with earlier undergoer, instrumental, and beneficiary voice functions being subsumed into modern passive voice.
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Alaska Native Place Names

Research assistantship for Collaborative Research: Linking Maps, Manuscripts, and Place Names Data to Improve Environmental Knowledge in Alaska Project (NSF-supported project). Spring 2019.

This project will compile a geographic database linking place name data found on historic Alaskan maps, manuscripts, and within oral histories and printed materials. The project framework integrates full GIS capabilities with multilingual audio, video, and text to reveal connections between named places and socio-ecological dimensions of landscape, including knowledge of local ecosystems and cultural values, adaptation and resilience.

Responsibilities include: Editing and management of geolinguistic datasets, preparation of data. Building and configuring online atlases using Nunaliit, an open source atlas framework running on Linux OS.

Browse a sample atlas from the project.

Languages of Sulawesi

Bilinski Educational Foundation Grant. Summer 2018.

Many indigenous languages of Sulawesi remain underdocumented and many more are underdescribed. Despite this, the languages of Sulawesi may be key to understanding important linguistic issues in the region, such as the nature and development of Austronesian voice, and the prehistory of Indonesia. In partnership with local organizations and community leaders, recordings were made of native speakers in two language communities of Sulawesi. Materials to be archived in Kaipuleohone Language Archive.

The phonology of Tajio Sija

Christina Truong with Derek Harman
Working paper based on original data. 2015.

This paper explores the phonology of the Sija variety of Tajio by comparing it with published research on other Tajio varieties, namely Kasimbar (Mayani 2013) and Sienjo (Himmelmann 2001). Sija is a village in West Sidoan, Parigi-Moutong, Central Sulawesi. Much of the data presented in this paper were collected and recorded in September 2015 in Palu, Central Sulawesi. Other supplementary data were collected by Derek Harman in Sija between 2007-2016 with a variety of speakers.

While Tajio Sija and the Central varieties from Kasimbar and Sienjo exhibit a rather low degree of lexical similarity for (what are considered) closely related varieties, our study shows that Tajio Sija is quite similar phonologically to the Central varieties. Additionally, our investigation of nasal obstruent sequences and reduplication in Tajio raises some questions. It is unclear what might motivate marked initial NCV patterns to emerge as an allowed or even preferred reduplicant shape. Tajio reduplication patterns may also shed light on the question of whether the reduplication base is best considered to be a phonological unit or a morphological unit.

Participatory methods for language documentation and conservation: Building community awareness and engagement

Christina L. Truong and Lilian Garcez
Article published in Language Documentation and ConservationFeb 2012.

This paper describes three participatory methods to engage communities in research, planning, implementation, and evaluation of language programs for their own benefit. In the first activity, participants build a map of language variation, intelligibility, and language attitudes in their community. In the second activity, patterns of bilingualism among demographic subgroups are diagrammed and analyzed by the community. In the third activity, the community creates a diagram of their language use in various domains. Several pilot tests of the methods were conducted with minority language speakers in Malaysia and Indonesia. Using participatory methods creates an opportunity for the community to participate in, shape, and own collaborative initiatives for their language.
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