Day 6: May 18

Today was Saturday, so we only had our morning elicitation session. Octavia and I worked on embedded clauses and quotations in Taurepang and Ye’kwana, respectively, while Greg continued on his saga to find instances of reduplication and the iterative morpheme in Macuxi. Unfortunately, today we had to say our final goodbyes to one of the Macuxi consultants, Olendina, as it was her last day working with us.

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We’re getting surprised at how fast the days have gone by! If in the beginning the days felt quite long, now they’re flying by. I get a feeling that there isn’t enough time to do what I would like to. There’s always something more I want to ask and there are new interesting looking phenomena popping up in each session that we won’t have time to investigate.

Once we were done with our fieldwork for the day, we were welcomed by Isabella’s mother and siblings into their lovely house for a feijoada that they had prepared. They were delightful hosts. The food was delicious and we had the greatest time there with their dogs and cats. We were shown to Isabella’s sister’s, Gabriela, extensive knowledge of Brazilian music, especially Northern Brazilian. She showed us different styles of music, the way they are danced, and even Brazilian versions of foreign music.

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Our lunch ended with some cake and coffee, and being very well fed, we headed to a refugee camp for indigenous people from Venezuela. According to Isabella, this is the world’s only refugee camp for indigenous people backed by the UN. It was a remarkable experience getting a glimpse of a refugee camp for the first time. It feels somewhat unsettling coming from a position of privilege, in stark contrast to those refugees who were forced to give up their homes to migrate to a foreign country in order to survive. We were there, however, mainly to take a look at the hand-woven crafts made by Warao women. There were so many lovely options among trays, baskets, purses, handbags, plates and others. It was hard to choose but each of us ended up getting something.

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After that, we went back to our hostel to relax for a bit and get ready to go see the dance performance Anfêmero at the municipal theatre of Boa Vista inspired on the songs of the famous Brazilian singer Elis Regina. The performance made reference to social issues in Brazil, including racism and homophobia. After this long day we ended our evening with some great Arabic food and came back to our hostel to get some much needed rest.

Post by Guilherme Teruya.

 

Day 5: May 17

Today was a full day of elicitation with a session in the morning and afternoon. In the morning there were two groups working on elicitation, Akio continued to work on Ye’kwana and Greg on Macuxi. Diene – the Taurepang consultant – was unable to attend in the morning, so I observed Greg’s session. While observing I also worked on our upcoming presentation that we will be giving at UERR Rorainópolis and Boa Vista. For lunch, we made our second visit to Restaurant Trigo’s, a local restaurant that we all enjoy.

In the afternoon all three elicitation sessions ran. Suzi, Diene and I worked on more complex phrases in Taurepang and learned some features of tense in Taurepang. We make quick progress with each session, and although slightly overwhelming, learning all this new information is such a rewarding process. Diene is incredibly smart and provides us with translation after translation with ease. After a fruitful afternoon session we stopped by Cafe Espresso for a quick coffee and tea. The cafe is like many others, but full of Brazilian goodies and drinks such as tapioca, coxinhas, and guava juice. Afterwards to end the day we visited the local shopping centre Boa Vista Gardens. We ended the mall trip with pictures in front of the Boa Vista sign like the tourists we are.

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Today was equal parts productive and enjoyable. At day 4 of elicitation we all feel as though we are finding a groove in our processes. We are learning more about the languages and adding more pieces to the puzzle. As well, as time goes on our consultants are becoming more comfortable with us, as are we with them. Personally, I look forward to seeing Diene every day, learning new things from her, getting to see more of her personality, and taking selfies! As I mentioned earlier she’s incredibly smart and has such a vivacious personality.

However, we all came to the realisation that we are halfway through our trip! This wonderful experience is quickly coming to an end we are all trying to enjoy every moment of it. This includes taking photos almost everywhere we go, especially of the funny things. Today we saw a school called MapleBear Canadian School that made us all laugh. After a quick google search, I’ve found it is a bilingual English-Portuguese school run similarly to the French immersion system in Canada.

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All in all today was a fruitful day. As we trudge along with our work this evening I am full of gratitude for this experience. Tomorrow brings new challenges, discoveries, and experiences that I am so excited for!

By Octavia Andrade-Dixon

Day 4: May 16th

Our days in Brazil are beginning to follow a familiar routine: our team would be up by 7-8 for breakfast at our hostel, get picked up just past 9am, head to the university campus (located just minutes away), and be ready for our elicitation sessions at 10am. These would last 2 hours in the morning, and 2 hours in the afternoon. This morning, we arrived at UERR much earlier than usual, and spent some time with Suzi discussing our progress researching our respective languages thus far.

As always, we broke into our small groups to continue working through our questionnaires. Guilherme and Josemar worked on adjectives, comparatives and measurements in Ye’kwana, while Octavia, Suzi and Diene did the same in Taurepang. As for my group, we continued exploring where reduplication is possible in different types of Macuxi verbs. For the very first time, (and I was quite excited (but nervous) about this) I had the opportunity to work with both Macuxi consultants, França and Olendina, at the same time. Since they speak slightly different varieties of Macuxi, it was interesting to observe how they would deliberate, agree or disagree on a particular sentence or construction that I bring up.

It’s also quite heartwarming to see that after just a few days, we (our research team and the consultants) are all getting familiar with and warming up to each other. Guilherme, Octavia and I are picking up more and more interesting aspects of our research languages as these elicitation sessions go by, and we’ve been eagerly sharing these patterns with each other during our breaks.

Our fruitful day at the university ended at 3pm, just as the heavy rain finally subsided. We headed back to our hostel, where Octavia set up her new go-to siesta spot: a very inviting hammock just outside our rooms. After a short rest, we were once again picked up and whisked off to revisit Tapiocaria Cangaço to satisfy our tapioca and cuscuz cravings. Our team had a lovely time, bonding over good food and some hearty laughs (about memes, telenovela tropes, and their relevance to the real world).

Our evenings in Brazil follow a certain routine as well: after the post-dinner food coma, we would rest a little bit, before organising our notes and preparing for the next day. We are collecting large amounts of data through these elicitation sessions, and sorting out these notes is crucial to figure out what sorts of questions we’d like to investigate next!

And hence ends Day 4 — we haven’t quite figured out whether it’s the heat/humidity, or the sheer amount of brain-work that makes these days quite tiring, but we’re certainly not complaining!

Here’s looking forward to another rewarding day tomorrow.

By Gregory Antono

 

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Guilherme and Josemar working on Ye’kwana
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The Macuxi group
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Diene and Octavia working on Taurepang
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The Macuxi group

 

Day 3: May 15th

Today we only had our morning session of elicitation as in the afternoon many UERR students and professors took part in the country-wide protests against the ministry of education’s budget cut on education, which affected federal universities in particular.

Our morning session, however, went as usual and each student worked with their respective languages and consultants. After the first day of work, we are now starting to get more familiar with doing elicitation as well as with the language. Personally, I am having much fun working out the grammatical patterns in Ye’kwana as well as learning how to pronounce and write words in the language. The consultants also seemed to be enjoying the process and even taught us some greetings in their languages.

With the extra time from not having the afternoon session, we took the rest of the day to relax at our hostel, but we also worked on organizing the data collected today and on preparations for the following day.

Post by Guilherme Teruya

 

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A group selfie ❤

 

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Diene, Isabella and Suzi

 

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The Macuxi group

 

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Diene and Octavia working on comparatives in Taurepang

 

 

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Guilherme and Josemar working on comparatives in Ye’kwana

 

 

Day 2: May 14th

May 14th 

Today was the first day of elicitations for our group. Each of us have been assigned a specific Brazilian Indigenous language, Macuxi for Greg, Ye’kwana for Guilherme and Taurepang for me (Octavia). In the morning, Guilherme and I worked alongside Suzi on Taurepang. The Taurepang consultant was Diene, a Taurepang woman who attends the Federal University of Roraima. We were also accompanied by Isabella’s student Vitória during this session. We began with translating a simple noun list and then moved onto adjectives and the different instances they could be used. Diene was very knowledgeable and provided us with detailed answers. Greg and Isabella worked with Olendina on Macuxi with focus on translating nouns and verbs, and verb paradigms. Isabella’s students accompanied the session as well. After our first session, we broke for lunch at the student café.

In the afternoon we continued with our elicitation session, Guilherme and I continued to work alongside Suzi on Taurepang with Diene for the first hour. In the second hour, the Ye’kwana consultant Josemar arrived. Guilherme and Isabella worked together on translations of adjectival constructions in Ye’kwana for the rest of the afternoon. Greg continued working on Macuxi but with a new consultant: França. Although a new experience for us all, with different challenges such as language barriers or lack of experience, it was a great first day. A great deal of data was collected, and personally it feels as though I am piecing together a puzzle with each sentence.

Later in the evening, we went to a restaurant called Tapiocaria Cangaço that served local food such as tapioca (similar to crepes but with a different texture), cuscuz, and various juices made of local fruit such as soursop and cashew. The restaurant had a northeast  theme throughout with different photos and art representing this region of Brazil. The food was excellent, and no one had any complaints. It was a great look into local cuisine and had amazing ambiance.

Overall it was a jam-packed day with new and exciting experiences throughout!

Post by Octavia Andrade-Dixon

 

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The Taurepang group

 

 

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The Ye’kwana group

 

 

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The Macuxi group (afternoon)
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The Macuxi group (morning)

 

 

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Guilherme, Greg, Octavia, Suzi and Isabella at Tapiocaria Cangaço

 

 

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Octavia and Greg met cuscuz!
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Guilherme enjoying a cuscuz and a a cupuaçu and chocolate tapioca