Advising in Indonesia

Corpus Work

Elicitation-based research on understudied languages goes best when supplemented with textual evidence from descriptive sources. So before heading to Indonesia on my Fulbright, I spent a summer putting together a searchable corpus of Mandar texts: collecting descriptive resources produced by the Language Office of South Sulawesi in the 70s and 80s, typing up examples, narratives, and stories, and glossing them in FLEx. That corpus is now available to the public on Kratylos, a website built by Dan Kaufman and Rafael Finkel, and continues to serve as a valuable resource for Mandar research- both as a place to check for patterns from elicitation and a place to find ones that are new.

Given the utility of this corpus, it is a long-term goal of mine to create corpora of this type for other languages of Sulawesi. In the summer of 2018, I put together and posted a similar corpus for a language closely related to Mandar, Mamuju, from texts collected by Kari Strømme in the 80s. More recently, I have turned this into an advising project. In 2022, I began to work with Jason Phillip, an undergraduate student at the University of Indonesia, to build a corpus of Makassarese. Once this corpus is complete, it will be made available on Kratylos and a new project will begin.

Jason will make an appearance at the FLEx workshop that will be delivered at the Language Office of South Sulawesi in the winter. A profile will appear soon.

Formal Advising

Another strand of my program to support Indonesian academia involves the training of native-speaker linguists in Sulawesi. Through this work on Mandar, a number of my consultants have become interested in linguistic research, and I have supported them toward this goal in a number of ways. The first speaker who I worked with, Nabila Haruna, was selected as the Language Ambassador of South and West Sulawesi in 2021. The second speaker and my primary language consultant, Jupri Talib, has gone further: in 2022, he defended an undergraduate thesis on the prosodic structure of Mandar Poetry at Kanjuruhan Teacher's College, Malang, and I served as an external committee member for this research. Looking ahead, Jupri plans to pursue higher education in formal linguistics. A short profile which he wrote is presented in translation below.

"My name is Jupri Talib. I've just finished an undergrad degree in English literature at Kanjuruhan Teacher's College, Malang, with a final thesis on the metrical structure of the traditional Kalindaqdaq poetry of West Sulawesi. I have a real passion for linguistics, and I want to become a researcher and work on the native languages of Indonesia in order to help preserve the traditions, literatures, and languages of Nusantara.

"I've been helping with research on the structure of Mandar with Dan since 2018. I feel really proud that there's a foreign researcher who wants to learn this language, and helping with this work has given me the opportunity to learn a lot about linguistics- from the basic structure of Mandar clauses to the theory of prosodic phonology, especially as applied to traditional Kalindaqdaq poetry. This opportunity has also made me realize that my language is really unique and full of special properties that have been preserved through the generations and must be maintained today. My hope is that with this research, other people will be able to easily learn about Mandar, and find a model for doing research on the regional languages that are spoken in every corner of Indonesia."

Good luck, Jupri!