Ethnobiology

Instructor(s):
Scott DeLancey
Roger Jacob

Course days, time, and location:
6/30 & 7/1
3:30 - 5:15
McKenzie, Room 345

Course Information:
In this workshop we will discuss the importance of documenting knowledge of animals and plants, and how people’s ways of thinking about the biological world are reflected in language.

We will discuss community and scientific interest in the data: what kinds of documentation will be most valuable to the community, to linguists, to anthropologists or other scholars.

We will give a brief introduction to the Linnaean system of “scientific” names, which is the current international framework for naming and classifying species.  We will talk about how the system works, why that is useful for you to know, and how to find information that you may need.

We will spend some time discussing how non-Linnaean “folk” systems of biological classification work.  We will use examples from various languages, centered around the ethnobiological system of American English, which will serve to illustrate how folk systems (including one which sometimes imagines itself to be “scientific”) are organized on very different principles than the Linnaean system.

Finally we will give concrete suggestions for how to go about documenting the ethnobiological system and vocabulary of a language.

Instructor(s) Bio:
Scott DeLancey is a professor of linguistics at the University of Oregon, where he has taught since 1982.  His research is primarily on Tibeto-Burman and neighboring languages in Asia, and Native languages of western North America, especially Oregon.  He is one of the founders of the Northwest Indian Language Institute (NILI), and regularly teaches in the NILI summer program.  He also works with linguists at Gauhati University in Assam and other universities in Northeast India to develop local capacity for linguistic documentation and language development at both the university and the community level.   In this connection he is currently working with three Boro-speaking linguists on a grammar of Boro, the largest “tribal” language in Northeast India.

Roger Jacob is a Yakama Reservation community member attempting to affect natural resource management and language learning through language documentation.


                                                  Updated June 24, 2010 5:54 pm