Monday, January 30, 2012

Ideophones and Ecuador

Here are a few places on the interwebs where people are sharing their knowledge about my same research interests:

First, Mark Dingemanse's blog, where he writes very insightfully-- he is a research staff member in the Language and Cognition group of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, so he's obviously pretty smart. Also his (lengthy) thesis, on the meaning and use of ideophones in Siwu, is my main read right now. His research utilizes new methods of data elicitation, takes into account new aspects of ideophone usage like daily conversation, and generally does a thorough job of reviewing past literature on ideophones and explaining his own ideas clearly. I will probably write a bit more about his thesis when I've finished, I'm only in the 4th chapter right now and I think there are at least 9.

Second, Michael Uzendoski has been studying Napo Runa culture for a long long time and his new book, The Ecology of the Spoken Word, which has not yet been released, has a website full of intriguing supplementary materials like videos of Runa women singing songs and other Runa recounting traditional stories. I read several articles by Uzendoski during last summer's research, and I've been meaning to read the whole of his book The Napo Runa of Amazonian Ecuador as well because I think it would give me more insight into Runa and Amazonian culture as a whole that would be useful in the Pastaza province as well.

It's really amazing to me how accessible knowledge is these days; at the same time, one of the things that drew me into the study of Kichwa culture was the mystery and obscurity, for example the fact that these people have knowledge about the rainforest that we can't even begin to compete with, or the traditional stories that could one day be lost along with their language and way of life. Now that I write that it seems perverse, like I want to know about Kichwa culture only because it will go away, but I would love to be able to share this knowledge and make it more accessible and prevent it from being lost, I'm not after some gnostic idea of secret perfection.

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