Having a <i>shinshii/shiishii</i> ‘master’ around makes you speak Japanese!

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Everyone brings with them a particular set of contextualization to interaction. After several years of working on the Ikema dialect of Miyako Ryukyuan, we are finally realizing that our very presence as <i>shinshii/shiishii</i> &#8216;masters&#8217; is one of the major factors encouraging Ikema people to use Japanese. Because of the way our social identity is perceived among the Ikema people, our work session turns out to be an inherently a Japanese speaking context, which not only makes collection of naturalistic discourse data rather precarious but also can influence even the native speakers&#8217; grammatical intuition of Ikema. Our goal in this paper is to explicate the very sensitive nature of the fieldwork setting and its implication for data collection by illustrating how the identity of researchers themselves can inadvertently shape the context and in turn shape the choice and use of language in fieldwork situations.


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