Category Archives: Fieldwork

Georges Awaad in Montreal Gazette

Undergraduate Field Work Lab member Georges Awaad was featured this week in the Montreal Gazette for his impressive command of languages. While we know that speaking lots of languages isn’t necessary for being a linguist, it certainly doesn’t hurt! Georges began research Chuj (Mayan) this past year, which is the language alluded to at the end of the article

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Justin Royer in Yuxquen

Justin is currently doing fieldwork in Yuxquen, a Chuj community located in Guatemala. While in Guatemala, Justin will be working on several projects, including a new project on the interface between syntax and prosody in Chuj, the focus of his second Eval paper. For this research trip, Justin is funded by a McGill Graduate Mobility Award.

Justin in Yuxquen with Yun and Elsa

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Fieldwork Lab Meeting, 4/11 – Scott AnderBois

At Fieldwork Group this week (Thursday 4/11 from 4:30-6:00 in Room 117), Scott AnderBois (Brown University) will present on a project he co-directs geared toward the documentation of the A’ingae language (Isolate, Ecuador).  He will also present some software he and his students have developed during the project.  The software, called LingView, provides a browser-based user interface to display annotated audio/video materials from ELAN and written materials from FLEx.

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Carol-Rose Little and Morelia Vázquez in the news

See Cornell’s recent article on McGill BA/Fieldwork Lab alum Carol-Rose Little (now a PhD student at Cornell) and her collaborative work with Ch’ol speaker Morelia Vázquez Martínez!

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Fieldwork Lab meeting, 11/29

The last Fieldwork Lab meeting of the semester took will take place November 29, from 4:00-5:30 in Room 002 (basement) of the Linguistics Building. There will be four presentations on language-related community engagement and outreach:

Javier Domingo (UdeM): Ethics in fieldwork and ethnographic relationships: The case of the documentation of Tehuelche (TEH)

Ben Oldham (McGill): ARIA Project on the challenges fieldworkers face in navigating social relationships in the field and the importance of bringing the community into fieldwork in a considerate way

Clint Parker (McGill): Indigenous languages in Canada and McGill’s Symposium on the University’s Role in Supporting Indigenous languages

Robbie Felix (UdeM):  how we can make language transmission more effective and decolonize language transmission, while also respecting indigenous autonomy

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Ch’ol transcription workshop

Members of the National Geographic-funded Ch’ol documentation project convened June 7th and 8th at CIESAS-Sureste in San Cristóbal de las Casas for a workshop focused on file management and transcription, organized by Juan Jesús Vázquez Álvarez and Jessica Coon, and with ELAN and audio file editing tutorials by Justin Royer and Sandra Cruz Gómez.

the group at work transcribing

Groups traveled from Oxolotán Tabasco (led by Nicolás Arcos López) and Yajalón, Chiapas (led by Bernabé Vázquez Sánchez). Altogether, they had collected more than 30 hours of Ch’ol recordings during the first phase of the project (see Workshop 1, here). During phase 2, they will select their favorite narratives to transcribe and translate. At the end, all materials will be uploaded to the Archive of Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA).

Workshop 2 participants, back row: Bernabé Vázquez Sánchez, Juan Jesús Vázquez Álvarez, Sandra Cruz Gómez, Nicolás Arcos López, Félix López López, Jessica Coon, Justin Royer, Morelia Vázquez Martínez Front row: Patricia López Vázquez, Nilda Gúzman López, Lourdes Méndez Sánchez, Matilde Vázquez Vázquez

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Royer and Torres in Guatemala

PhD student Justin Royer is in Guatemala with Fieldwork Lab Chuj consultant Magdalena Torres. Here they are, together with Magdalena’s husband Mateo Pablo in Petanak. Mateo Pablo is one of few survivors of the massacre that took place in this community in 1982––one of many massacre against Maya communities by the military during the war. His experiences are the subject of the documentary film Haunted Land, by Montreal-based film-maker Mary Ellen Davis.

Magda, Mateo, and Justin in Petanak

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Filed under Fieldwork, Student news, Travel

National Geographic Explorers grant for Ch’ol project

I’m happy to report I received funding from the National Geographic Explorers program to support work research and documentation work during my sabbatical here in Chiapas. The project title is “Documenting word order variation in Mayan languages: A collection of Ch’ol narratives”, and involves collaborators Juan Jesús Vázquez Álvarez (UNAM-CIMSUR), Nicolás Arcos López (Universidad Intercultural de Tabasco), Lauren Clemens (SUNY Albany), John Haviland (UCSD), and Roberto Zavala Maldonado (CIESAS-Sureste).

The trilingual project webpage is up and running at We’ll be updating the page with info on upcoming training workshops, Ch’ol video and audio files, and blog posts from Ch’ol student trainees.

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Chuj collection available on AILLA

The collection of Chuj narratives that the Chuj team here as been working on together with Pedro Mateo Pedro has just been published to the Archive of Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA), and is available here. Special thanks to Paulina Elias for a lot of recent work organizing and updating the files, and to the team at AILLA for getting everything online!

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Fieldwork Lab in Guatemala

Current and past McGill students are spending most of June in Patzún, Guatemala in connection with the University of Maryland’s Guatemala Field Station. For the first two weeks they took Kaqchikel immersion classes, and and spent the second two weeks conducting research on Mayan languages.

Justin Royer, Jessica Coon, Michaela Socolof, Sarah Mihuc, and Anouk Dieuleveut in Antigua

Incoming PhD student Justin Royer, and recent BA graduate Sarah Mihuc, worked together with Juana Gómez on a Chuj documentation project led by Jessica and Pedro Mateo Pedro.

Jessica, Juana, Justin, and Sarah taking a break from Chuj work

The group also presented work at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Altiplano:


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