Today we finished off our advanced language workshop. I completed the charting process for my 2nd text out of 13. The workshop has gone really well, we’ve made good progress and we’ve got the idea of it. Our teacher asked if we felt encouraged at the end of it and we all said no because we’re thinking about all the work yet to do!

Part of the charting process is to figure out how each and every proposition in the text relates to the others, picking between options such as sequential, reason-result, grounds-conclusion, head-amplification, literal-head and many others.

An example chart showing proposition relationships

Each line (proposition) connects somehow into the chunk (paragraph) it’s in and then all the paragraphs fit together. Upon completion of the charting the easy part is finished, so we need to look at the spider web of connections and make some hypotheses.
How do you link propositions sequentially in Kovol? How do you amplify? What is the form of a reason-result relationship?

We’re studying narratives right now and so we have a lot of sequential relationships. This, then that, then that type speech. With so many examples we should be able to write a hypothesis about how you link 2 sentences in chronological time… but I’m struggling. It’s not enough to just say “you say one sentence and then the next one” (which seems to be what happens). We need to be able to point to what it is that tips us off that this is one event after another and not a recapitulation or amplification of a previous action, and right now everything is looking a bit messy.

We have exactly the same patterns marking both amplification-head and sequential propositions, so this is causing us to question things.

We have an example that looks like this:

  • they came up
  • they came up to the house

We had that marked as an amplification. The head (the main idea) is that they came up, and that they came up to the house amplifies that idea. Perhaps we could call it a generic-specific relationship also. With it having exactly the same format as a sequential relationship though… maybe it is. Maybe our speaker is saying “they came up, then they came up to the house”. It feels like I’m trying to read minds!

on the way to deliver cake to celebrate finishing ALW

All I can do is pick at the low-hanging fruit, the things that I notice as I scroll up and down through my chart over and over and then move on. Perhaps after charting texts 3-13 I’ll discover something that could potentially be unique about each relationship type, an idea that I could use to go back through and clean up my charts to arrive at consistency. Perhaps chart 13 will make things clear enough for me to go back and relabel things in chart 1.

eating the cake in the classroom!

One positive is that now at least we’ve got ideas for all of our little particles that follow verbs. When Kovol speakers were speaking in larger chunks we’d see i, oo and a following verb that we didn’t ever see in independent sentences. Whether the ideas we have now are right or not we’ll have to wait and see! The uncertainty is perhaps the hardest thing. No one can tell us if we have the right answers or not. We’ll just have to do our best, go with our best ideas for a while and wait to see if we’ll be forced to revise things at some point.

It’s been a tiring workshop! I’m looking forward to a few days off now bouncing children on the trampoline, taking naps and then buying our supplies to get ready to be back in the bush. Our flight is scheduled for next week Thursday so we’ll at least get the weekend for resting and visiting with people before we need to start thinking about buying and packing supplies for our return.

Oscar made a fort

Having seen how long it takes to chart these texts we now need to figure out as a team what is a good deadline for finishing our discourse analysis. We need to chart 11 more texts and then write up our findings in a paper. It’s going to be a lot of time tapping away on our computers charting and writing in the coming months!
I think I’ll be taking a nap first though. 2 down, 11 to go 😀


Wim Evers · 27/07/2023 at 9:05 pm

Hi Steve and Gerdien, that’s a whole lot of work! Pfff. I admire your tenacity! We think of you! Blessings!

Lois S. · 28/07/2023 at 6:36 am

Hoping that after you conquer the initial learning curve the rest of the texts will go faster. They might not, but I hope so. I really enjoy hearing about the various steps to processing the language.

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