Miskitu Language Field Research Planning


I have previously conducted research on Miskitu beginning in 2001. I am now preparing to conduct my dissertation research on the language. My goals for this trip were to assess the current research and socio-political situation in the region, improve my Miskitu language skills and knowledge, make contact with researchers and other key individuals, and identify potential field sites for my research. I was exceptionally fortunate in being able to meet with numerous researchers, including linguists, who live in or were visiting the region. Many of these were new contacts, and several I had met previously but had not been in contact with for years. I discussed my dissertation plan with these individuals and received useful feedback that I believe will improve the final project. My Miskitu language knowledge also improved, both in my speaking ability and my awareness of aspects of the language that require further exploration. I did identify some potential field sites but was unable to visit any of them because I became very ill in mid-July and was unable to travel for nearly 4 weeks. At the beginning of my visit, I was fortuitously able to attend a workshop in Costa Rica. Other participants in this workshop included Miskitu and Mayangna linguists, as well as linguists from Mexico and Costa Rica, and focused on developing a standard elicitation methodology and typology of motion predicates. My health experiences reinforced my belief that my field research should take place during the dry season whenever possible to reduce the risk of illness. I also realized that the political tensions in the region are likely to have an impact on the selection of a field site, and may force me to alter my research questions and methodology. My new understanding of the inadequacy of existing descriptions of the language will also influence the kinds of questions I will attempt to answer in my dissertation research.

Ruth Rouvier
Publication date: 
August 27, 2016
Publication type: 
Student Research