Phase 2: Theme B - Cultural and linguistic diversity: Project B011|
Language, technology and social reproduction: the technical lexicon of traditional stone tool makers in West Papua
Dietrich Stout (Department of Anthropology, Emory University)
Cards Against Humanity
Fieldwork undertaken at Langda in the highlands of West Papua in 1999 documented the sophistication and complexity of one of the last remaining traditional knapped stone technologies in the world (Stout 2002, Stout 2005). In addition to identifying concrete artefactual indicators of knapping skill and exploring the social context supporting skill acquisition, this research reported a surprisingly elaborate and specific lexicon of technological terminology. Several hours of audio-recorded interviews and conversation were collected during this research, and initial translations were performed in the field with the aid of a local assistant. However, much remains to be learned from these tapes.
The current project is a collaboration with Prof. Wulf Schiefenhövel, head of the Human Ethology Group at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Andechs, Germany. Dr. Schiefenhövel is one of the only speakers of the Eipo-Mek language of Langda living outside New Guinea, and co-author of the only extant dictionary (Heeschen, V. und Schiefenhövel, W. (1983) Wörterbuch de Eipo-Sprache.Eipo-Deutsch-Englisch. Reimer, Berlin). More detailed translation of tapes from the 1999 field season is expected to bear on questions including:
• manner and content of technical instruction
• complexity and specificity of terminology
• conceptualization and use of metaphor
• social context and interpersonal relations
FINAL PROJECT REPORT:
Consultation was undertaken as planned with Prof. Wulf Schiefenhövel, however linguistic data that could be extracted from the audio and video recordings was more limited than had been hoped and the project has been indefinitely postponed, eventually to be completed on PIs own time.