About the Archive

The guiding intention behind the Arapesh Grammar and Digital Language Archive Project (AGDLA) was to digitally preserve and make more accessible and useful the audio recordings, transcribed texts, and linguistic notes produced during the project director's fieldwork on the Arapesh languages of Papua New Guinea. The primary components are a digital text collection with associated audio [link to catalog] and a lexicon connected to the texts (currently under development).

The AGDLA text collection consists of fifty-six digitally transcribed texts, or "linguistic events." The breaks separating transcribed utterances coincide with syntactic and intonational boundaries as much as possible, but the alignment is not perfect as it was often necessary to break utterances artificially in order to make them workable within the frame of the ELAN program's window. The notation adopted is broad phonemic transcription; however, when a more narrow phonetic transcription was present in the handwritten materials, or specifically relevant given the context, this was generally carried over into the digital form of the texts so that the information would be preserved.

The texts comprise narratives of traditional and contemporary content (e.g., the story of the peopling of a nearby island; the storyteller's experience of an eclipse that occurred during a trip she had recently made to the market in town), descriptions of culturally significant activities and constructs (e.g., the traditional method followed for building a slitgong drum; explaining how a certain type of supplicating magic is performed), meeting discourse, and informal conversation. The texts vary in length from a minute or two to over two hours. Four distinct dialects of Mountain Arapesh are represented, with the Cemaun dialect predominant.

In addition, the archive includes digital recordings of songs, village church services, mourning dirges, speechmaking by Arapesh people in Tok Pisin, interviews with local people (in Tok Pisin and/or English) on the history of the Arapesh area, examples of the remarkable surrogate speech form used by the inland Arapesh, ambient village, town, and jungle sounds, and other recordings of interest. These are described in the database alongside the transcribed texts.

Finally, fourteen of Dobrin's field notebooks have been incorporated into the archive for purposes of preservation and so that some of the entries they contain can be meaningfully cross-referenced in the lexicon.