23rd Workshop on American Indigenous Languages - WAIL 23

Country: USA

City: Santa Barbara

Abstr. due: 07.02.2020

Dates: 22.05.20 — 23.05.20

Area Of Sciences: Humanities;

Quick links:

Share with peers:

Organizing comittee e-mail: wail.ucsb@gmail.com

Organizers: The Linguistics Department at the University of California


Inspired by Edward Sapir’s suggestion that “the understanding of a simple poem” might be a key site for thinking through questions of linguistic relativity, I reflect on the social and linguistic processes of understanding and misunderstanding a “simple” poem. I begin by presenting a poem written in Navajo by Rex Lee Jim and four translations of the poem. Three will be from Navajo consultants and one of those translations will be, from a certain perspective, rather surprising. Namely, why does one consultant translate this poem as if it is composed of ideophones? The fourth translation is mine. I follow this by working through the morphology of the poem in Navajo and saying something more about the translators and the process of translation. I then provide a transcript of a conversation I had with Blackhorse Mitchell about this poem. I use this to take up questions of phonological iconicity (punning) and the seductive quality of ideophony. I also place this poem within a context of the stick dice game in Navajo philosophy. This leads, in the conclusion, to reflections about linguistic relativity, misunderstandings, sound, poetics and the role of a humanities of speaking in anthropology and linguistics.

Conference Web-Site: http://wail.linguistics.ucsb.edu/