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  The topology of endangered languages

Berson, J. (2017). The topology of endangered languages. Signs and Society, 5(1), 96-123. doi:10.1086/690621.

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Berson, Josh1, Author              
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1MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_persistent22              

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 Abstract: Few sources exist from which to form impressions of how Indigenous Australians have made sense of the questions put to them by linguists. For one survey, conducted by Summer Institute of Linguistics linguists in 1970, we have a transcript of conversations between linguists and speakers. The linguists were asking for information about the mutual intelligibility and geographic extent of the named speech forms they had been tasked with documenting. Linguists and speakers brought to the encounter mutually incompatible visions of how linguistic variation unfolds in space. For speakers, speech-form geography was characterized by reticulation, rather than tessellation, and the mutual intelligibility of neighboring speech forms was to be characterized not in terms of basic vocabulary cognacy but in terms of histories of recurring encounters among speakers of different codes. The 1970 East Kimberley transcript makes audible speakers’ and linguists’ efforts to negotiate a shared way of talking about language.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2017-03
 Publication Status: Published online
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 Rev. Type: -
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1086/690621
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Title: Signs and Society
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: Chicago : University of Chicago Press
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 5 (1) Sequence Number: - Start / End Page: 96 - 123 Identifier: ISSN: 2326-4497
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/2326-4497