Voices from the field

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Edward Sapir’s grammar of Takelma remains a model of linguistic description and insight into the deeper structure of a language. Together with his Takelma Texts it is our principal source of information on this extinct language, once spoken in southwestern Oregon. Sapir did his fieldwork on Takelma in the summer of 1906, and in less than seven weeks’ work with a single informant he was able to obtain an important number of ethnolinguistic texts and a wealth of grammatical and lexical materials. We are well informed about Sapir’s fieldwork on the Siletz Reservation in Oregon, through his correspondence with Franz Boas, in which various aspects of the Takelma language and culture are discussed. The correspondence also informs us about Sapir’s difficulties in coming to grips with the morphological complexities of the language.


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