Language-specific Sources of Acoustic Stability in Phonological Development


The purpose of this trip was to initiate contact with parents and school teachers in Cochabamba, Sucre, and Tarabuco, Bolivia. Having established this rapport, on future visits I may be able to collect daylong naturalistic recordings of young children interacting with their parents in the home and teachers at school. This compliments my current work on monolingual Quechua children's phonological development while simultaneously allowing me to interact with the speech community that provided the data for the project. Beyond academic goals, this investigation also aims to disseminate information concerning the trajectories of bilingual Quechua-Spanish language development to parents and teachers in bilingual communities of southern Bolivia. This information may eventually permit communities to make their own decisions about which languages to teach in school and the home. My time in Bolivia has been extremely fruitful. I first established contacts at the PROEIB Andes, of the University Mayor of San Simón in Cochabamba, Bolivia, who assisted me during my first visit to the remote mountain village of Tarabuco. I also attended Quechua classes taught at the university. A graduate student accompanied me on my first visit to Tarabuco, via Sucre, and we stayed with a family in Tarabuco. This was my first "field" experience and the lack of things that many of us take for granted (regular electricity, running water, toilets) was a bit of a shock. However, in Tarabuco, I helped sell produce and food at the popular Sunday market and established contacts with several women with young children. With the permission of school directors and the director of human development for the town, I also visited a primary school. There, I played with the children and spoke with the teachers about the structure of bilingual education in the school. At this point, given the relatively remote, secluded nature of the community, it would have been highly inappropriate to ask to record teacher-child interactions. However, with these contacts established, upon my return, I can try to do just that. My recommendation for others conducting similar fieldwork is to simply go with the flow. Though I did manage to go to Tarabuco, it was far from clear whether this would be a possibility up until about 2 days before my trip. I could not go alone and was dependent upon a UMSS graduate student's availability. But with some flexibility and a good sleeping bag, I had a very successful trip.

Margaret Cychosz
Publication date: 
August 18, 2017
Publication type: 
Student Research