Reasoning about equivalence in semantic fieldwork


The job of a fieldworker involves both elicitation from native speakers and interpretation of the data thus elicited. This chapter concerns the process of reasoning by which the bare results of elicitation are interpreted. One hypothesis often used in interpretation is that the input to translation and the output of translation are equivalent in meaning. Another is that, in a particular context, speakers will accept (or reject) sentences expressing the same range of propositions, regardless of what language they are speaking. Both hypotheses can be highly useful in reasoning about field data, but neither should be blindly followed all of the time. The reasons stem from differences among languages in the range of propositions they make it possible and practical for their speakers to convey.

Publication date: 
January 1, 2015
Publication type: 
Recent Publication
Deal, Amy Rose. 2015. Reasoning about equivalence in semantic fieldwork. In M. Ryan Bochnak and Lisa Matthewson (eds.), Methodologies in semantic fieldwork pp. 157-174. Oxford University Press.