Today was our last day of elicitation. Greg continued to work with França on reduplication and iterative morphemes Makuxi as Olendina finished her sessions last. Suzi and I finished worked on discerning the use of the certain comparative words, negative comparisons and relative clauses. Josemar was unable to attend in the morning so Akio observed Suzi and I’s session for a portion of the morning and prepared notes for his upcoming afternoon session. In the afternoon Akio and Josemar worked on quotatives.
Just like that our time with our consultants is over. It feels just like yesterday we were meeting them and learning the basics of their respective languages. In a blink of an eye after becoming comfortable with Diene she is back to regular programming, and we are wrapping up our trip. I am going to miss Diene’s vivacious personality, her style (she had a great outfit every day), learning little bits and pieces about her life, her invaluable knowledge, and taking selfies (haha). I’m also going to miss everyone’s warmth and welcoming energy each day. Although our time together has been short, it has been nothing but positivity throughout.
It has been such a joy learning about Taurepang, seeing Suzi’s process as a linguist, and learning more about linguistics as a non-linguist. Unlike my classmates I have not studied linguistics extensively, but rather Human Geography. As a result, throughout this process I have gained a great deal of knowledge, respect and admiration for the important work linguists do in the field. Not all of our questions have been answered as it would take years of consultation, but a clearer picture has been painted. Work like this -even at an undergraduate level- is so important as it gives students a chance to experience a new part of the world and learn about groups that do not generally have high visibility. In academia many of the same narratives are shared repeatedly, but this course along with Suzi’s Brazilian Indigenous Language class during the school year helps break this hegemony.
Tomorrow we travel to the UERR Ronainopolis campus to give a presentation on Indigenous Languages and people in Canada. We have our apprehensions and there is still much memorising to do, but we are excited nonetheless. This is our chance to impart a fraction of the knowledge we have gained this week. In Brazil the socio-political context and language vitality of North American Indigenous languages is not well-known, so our presentations will give the students a glimpse into the similarities and differences between our two countries. We also have the opportunity to act as consultants for the fields method class Suzi is instructing. We are all very excited for this as we have been on the other side for the past week.
At the end of the day we had our daily local food exploration. Today we tried Tacacá, and vapatá.These are dishes made primarily from a broth wild manioc broth with other spices. We all tried a bit of everything and cleared our plates. We also tried Kibe which a small fried handheld snack made from rice and seasoned beef. Everything was delicious as usual, and company was great. Isabella’s family came to join us, and they were so pleased to see we were eating their regional food. Overall, lunch was delicious and yet another gastronomical delight of Brazil.
Reflecting back on this week of elicitation it has been quite an eventful ride. In the car on the way home the three of us realised that this time last week we were all mildly confused and exhausted from our multi-leg journey to Boa Vista. While we are still quite sleepy come midday, we found energy to learn new things about languages and people. It has been such a transformative week academically and personally. I have learned new things about Brazilian society, Indigenous societies, small language quirks in Portuguese, and most importantly I have had an amazing week with great people. Our next two days will be a whirlwind of presentations and travel, but I am excited to make the most of our last 48hrs.
By Octavia Andrade-Dixon