Documenting Simpa: Advances in language documentation
Documentary linguistics, also known as language documentation, a relatively new branch of Linguistics, advocates for the fundamental need to collect records of language use and practices in various forms from diverse genres for multiple purposes. Such purposes include language description, language development, language maintenance, and language revitalisation. Such a record of a language serves to feed not only linguistic research but also research in other disciplines, such as anthropology, history, and ethnography. Language documentation is recognized as an ultimate response to language endangerment. This paper explores language documentation with specific reference to Simpa, an under-described, minority language of Ghana. The paper reviews theories, approaches, methods, and tools of language documentation to highlight how they were employed and attuned to take care of the Simpa context. Thus, the discussion dilates on specific field methods and tools adapted for obtaining a balanced set of data from three complementary event types, viz., natural communicative events, staged communicative events, and elicitations, to build a language documentation corpus. Data processing, data annotation, and data management practices applied in building the corpus, as well as dissemination of the research outcomes are also addressed. Furthermore, fieldwork ethics used in the study are discussed. Finally, for consideration in future research, the paper reflects on some challenges that were encountered in documenting Simpa.
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