Necessary and sufficient data collection

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In documenting an endangered language, one hopes to create a record that gives a good overall picture of the language in use, can serve as the basis for a well-rounded linguistic description, and that can be used for language revitalization, should that be desired. This paper presents an example from historical documentation of the Potawatomi Language, and illustrates a common choice by linguists to collect narrative text as the basis for grammatical and lexical description. Given limited time to be in the field, this practice is understandable. In this case, however, it created a gap in our knowledge that is difficult to fill today given the size of the extant speech community, and biases even the most basic grammatical description.


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